SMC IT student awarded scholarship

DOWAGIAC — Miranda Gonzalez of Constantine, a Southwestern Michigan College information technology student, has been awarded a $2,000 2020-21 scholarship by the Michigan Council of Women in Technology.

Then 31, Gonzalez reached a crossroads in 2017: seek a manufacturing promotion that would challenge her or return to school and pursue something new.

“For as long as I can remember I have enjoyed taking electronics apart and figuring out what makes them work,” she said. “Part of my work in manufacturing involves operating, maintaining and troubleshooting several industrial machines. When I made my decision to enroll in college, I knew I wanted to do something similar to that part of my work. As I researched various STEM careers, I was attracted to IT because it has a broad spectrum of implementations and is constantly evolving.”

“IT is a field where I can see a clear path forward to grow and develop my career,” Gonzalez said. “I am studying IT networking. I find networking exciting because businesses and organizations of all kinds need the connection that networking provides. Wireless network implementation is an especially immediate demand. Recent events concerning the COVID-19 pandemic have put on display the importance of good networking solutions.”

“Another aspect of IT that excites me is systems,” Gonzalez said. “Working in systems requires the ability to have a comprehensive perspective of the network and bring new ideas and solutions to improve it. I enjoy finding creative solutions to problems and I believe that work would be a good fit for me.”

Gonzalez is originally from the Akron, Ohio, area. She moved to Michigan in 2015 to be with her husband and his family, working in child care and sales positions until becoming a machine operator/line leader, which helped her grow in leadership, organization, creative problem-solving and confidence to discover her full potential.

She was attracted to SMC by “the focused programs with applicable courses, certification opportunities included with courses, transferability of credits to four-year programs, location and the affordable tuition rate.”

Her first ISYS instructor, Assistant Professor Eric Clayborn, who recommended her for the scholarship, also encouraged Miranda to take advantage of opportunities at SMC such as student participation in the local business advisory meeting, IT Club and the IT Help Desk

“I have enjoyed working with the awesome SMC IT department,” she said. “The staff graciously trained me in various aspects of the department and answered any questions I have. My experience at SMC has been a very positive one.”

In addition to the scholarship, the Southfield-based MCWT will assign her a mentor to meet with regularly as part of the program. Gonzalez completes her associate degree in the spring of 2021, then plans to continue to a bachelor’s degree.

A 2018 study found women hold less than 20 percent of U.S. tech jobs.

“It’s noticeable,” said Gonzalez, who is usually one of two or three women in a class of 15. “It’s also apparent when you look at big U.S. tech companies. It’s definitely a space dominated by men. I’m not sure what accounts for the lack of women in tech. Apart from the history of gender disparity, I think the stereotype of ‘nerdy tech guys’ might contribute to young women’s hesitation. It is also somewhat intimidating to enter a vocation knowing you’ll be in the minority.

“What I do know is we are equally capable of innovation and development in technology. Mathematician Ada Lovelace became the first-ever computer programmer in 1842. In 1942, actress Hedy Lamarr invented frequency hopping, which makes technologies such as WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS possible. And software engineer Marissa Mayer was a significant contributor to the development of Google and now runs her own tech company. Women are overcoming age-old disparities every day. I am optimistic we will do the same in the world of technology. My hope is that in my lifetime I will see women starting tech companies with the same global impact as the likes of Google, Amazon and Facebook. Who knows? I might even be one of them. In the meantime, I am grateful to organizations like MCWT for encouraging and empowering women to make that hope a reality.”

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