Ashley Ferguson is one of 3 winners of the Girls in Tech Phoenix Computer Science Scholarship sponsored by Axosoft.
We recently sat down with her to learn a little more about her background and what she hopes to do after she completes the Bottega full stack developer program, and she also gave us some tips on completing scholarship applications. Read more about Ashley below!
Tell us about yourself in the format of a Tweet!
I am an Arizona native, an Arizona State University alumna, and recent San Jose State University graduate. I have a strong musical background and play several instruments and have a great classic rock and blues collection. I am an avid reader and love all things tech and Sci-Fi.
I have spent most of my professional career in the non-profit arena but shifted gears a little over a year ago. I am currently working as a software tester and documentation specialist for a publishing software company. I had an interest in learning how to build my own applications, which is why I applied for this scholarship.
How did you hear about the scholarship opportunity?
I follow Girls in Tech on a few social media platforms. I was lucky enough to see the scholarship opportunity just before the deadline!
Do you have any tips for others completing scholarship applications?
I think vulnerability in your answers can be so powerful, particularly for personal essays. When writing about moments of weakness or adversity, it can be challenging and sometimes painful to get the words out. Brainstorm these ideas, organize them, and align it with your overall mission. You might be surprised to see that your weakest moment might have been the very foundation to what made you succeed.
What part of the Bottega program are you most looking forward to?
Aside from learning something new, I am excited to be able to take these new concepts and build something tangible that I can use to get my start as software developer. I am very much looking forward to getting completely immersed in the process that will get me there.
What do you hope to do in tech after you complete the program?
I want to help my community in any way that I can! It is a dream of mine to use my abilities to help develop some sort of language repository or app for my Native tribe to preserve their language. To do so, I hope to keep up this momentum through Bottega and perhaps earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science after I am finished with the program. I also would love to volunteer to teach basic computer skills to the kids of the neighborhood where I grew up.
What first sparked your interest in tech?
I think tech has always been a big part of my life, but I think that the first time I became knowledgeable AND skilled was when I worked for a local electronics store in the electronic components department. The head of my department started pushing me to become a salesperson, but I was reluctant since I really knew nothing about computer components. He was adamant and convinced that once I learned the products and how they worked together that I would be his top salesperson. He provided me with the base knowledge I needed to then do my own research on what was on the market at the time. While I never became a particularly great salesperson, I learned how to build computers from scratch. Ever since then, I became obsessed with all aspects of computers and technology. I am very excited to begin this new venture of learning how to be a programmer.
Is there anyone in your life that motivates or inspires you to pursue tech?
I am fortunate enough to have a great support system! My family has urged me to pursue tech ever since I worked for the electronics store. I used to tinker around with computers at home, and even built a Franken-computer that my mother now uses. Also, I have an amazing circle of friends in the tech industry. One friend of mine pushed me for years to get into a coding bootcamp, and another one got my foot in the door in the software industry doing QA.
What is your favorite part of the Girls in Tech organization?
The best part of the Girls in Tech organization lies within the passion of the people who run it. This incredible group has a pulse on their communities, they identify their needs, and they put together these events, programs, and other opportunities. However, I think the pinnacle of this group is the mentorship opportunities.
Thanks to Axosoft, this scholarship is possible! Axosoft launched the #ItWasNeverADress campaign in 2015 to ignite a conversation about women (or the lack thereof) in the tech industry. This scholarship is to help make the tech industry a more diverse and inclusive landscape. What does the #ItWasNeverADress movement mean to you?
Movements like #ItWasNeverADress mean solidarity to me. There are so many intelligent and driven women who have participated in this movement, they have shared their personal stories of trials and tribulations. Having a space where women (and men who support the movement) can speak openly and freely is an incredible gift. These women feel empowered to be role models, they are entrepreneurs, scientists, and engineers. This empowerment is how we will help bridge gender disparity in the tech industry.
For more information on Ashley, connect with her on LinkedIn.
Thank you to all of the scholarship applicants and congrats to the winners! Your support is crucial in our mission to increase female representation in tech! Check out our Q&A with scholarship winner Aine Fitzgerald Coleman here. And our Q&A with winner Mercedes Martinez here.