What is your scientific background?
My major is Information Systems. I am the author of the book Sasha Savvy Loves to Code.
Why did you choose to become a scientist?
I attended McKinley Technology High School in Washington DC. All students have to choose an aspect of STEM for an academic track. I chose Technology based on me loving my IPhone and IPad. But I wasn’t truly interested until I had a Microsoft internship in the AthleTech Division my senior year where coding was used to create a gaming app by my team. The internship was designed specifically to give students a real work experience.
How did you choose your field of study?
I chose my field of study based on my experiences of attending an STEM-focused high school and having 3 business-technology related internships before I started college.
Which topic are you working on at the moment? Why did you choose this topic and how do you think you’ll make a difference?
My focus is increasing the number of girls interested in STEM specifically technology. A radio interview in high school inspired me to write Sasha Savvy Loves to Code because that is when I realized that everyone doesn’t know what coding is. As I did more and more research, it was clear that I needed to write a book to inspire girls. My mom suggested that I should write a book. Children will now be able to see themselves in STEM fields.
Did you ever doubt your abilities as a scientist? Why? How did you handle these situations/feelings?
As an Information Systems major, I have faced a few challenges in my coding courses. Coding requires a lot of focus, studying, and practice. Although I knew the basics of Java, it was still very difficult to learn. It can be very frustrating. Sometimes, I’ve wanted to give up. I had to be very disciplined and determined.
What (or who) motivated you in difficult times?
When I faced challenges with my major, my mom was always there when I needed someone to talk to. This is something that I am passionate about so I knew I needed to find a way to get through it.
Do you come from an academic family?
Yes, a lot of my family graduated from college. My mom is a graduate of Georgetown University and Catholic University Columbus School of Law.
Besides your scientific interests, what are your personal interests?
I enjoy hanging out with friends, reading, writing, exercising, and fashion.
In your opinion, which changes, if any, are needed in the scientific system to be more attractive to female scientists and possible future scientists?
From my own experience, I’ve noticed that there just aren’t enough girls involved in STEM-related activities. Raising interest and changing these statistics starts with exposing girls to STEM at an early age. One of the reasons why there is a lack of girls interested in STEM, specifically coding is because they are not exposed to it in school or at home. I want girls to know that they can choose any career they want despite their gender or race.
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About Sasha Savvy Loves to Code
Sasha Savvy Loves to Code by Sasha Ariel Alston, is a children’s chapter book (ages 7-10) illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. The main character, Sasha Savvy, is a super smart 10-year old African-American girl, who lives in Washington, DC. Sasha must choose which class to take for summer camp. Her mom discovers that the camp is offering a new class for girls on how to code. Sasha thinks this will be boring and doesn’t believe that she is good at computer stuff. Despite this, she decides to give it a chance and convinces her best friends, Gabby Reyes and Ashley Webster, to attend the coding camp with. her Sasha’s mom, a Software Developer, gives her a unique formula to help her remember how to code but will it be enough to keep her interested and to get her through a challenging first day of camp with bugs everywhere, computing errors, that is.