10 Reasons Why Princess Leia Was Totally Boss

Posted on - Community, Tech Tips

One of the most prominent heroines in all of cinema, General Leia Organa (aka Princess Leia) operated in a league of her own. From her blaster-handling capabilities to her strategic mind to her ability to protect and inspire those around her, Leia was more than a capable leader: she was totally boss. 

She was more boss than her father, Darth Vader, who used fear and intimidation to rule.

She was more boss than her brother, Luke Skywalker, who harbored simplistic notions of organizational vision and eventually withdrew from the world.

She was more boss than her husband, Han Solo, whose brazen, blaster-blaring approach to life may have impressed us, but whose project management process was ultimately unsustainable.

Anyway, let’s cut the movie trivia chatter. Here are 10 reasons why Princess Leia was totally boss. 

1. She was fearless, but not psychopathic.

Princess Leia did not hesitate to dive into a trash compactor, pilot a speeder bike through the dense forests of Endor or swing across a deep Death Star chasm on a flimsy wire. But she could also feel the pain of losing her home planet to the Empire’s cruelty, as well as the loss of her own son to the Dark Side.

Effective leadership demands a certain tolerance of risk, but also empathy. A 2016 study corroborated earlier research that 20 percent of CEOs and executives meet criteria for psychopathy, marked by callous and unemotional traits such as insincerity, a lack of empathy or remorse, egocentrism, charm and superficiality. (Want to find out your own tolerance for risk? Check out this Tech Republic article. Need to build some empathy? Please do.)

2. She had mad technical skills.

She knew machine learning before it was cool. While technical skills are not an absolute requirement for leading, say, a software development team, they do garner trust and respect, and they come in handy in a pinch.

3. She could accept change and adapt to shifting circumstances.

Before the Empire blew up her home planet, Alderaan, Leia lied and protested fiercely to her imperial captors, trying to save her people. And when they destroyed her planet anyway, she cried out, then almost immediately seemed to accept the loss and begin planning her next move. This balance of conviction and agility makes for great leadership: you have to believe in your ideas and be able to sell them, but also adjust course when things don’t go your way.

4. She could communicate.

Whether she was discussing strategy with leaders to attack the Death Star, inspiring her fellow rebels to win against all odds, or lying about where the rebel plans were hidden, Princess Leia knew her audience and exactly what to say at the right time. Her ability to craft a clear, compelling message with words made her an effective leader. The best leaders know how to write a sentence (see Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Jr., etc.). They don’t inflate their prose with polysyllabic jargon or passive voice in a certain-to-backfire attempt to sound intelligent. Rather, they strive to express, not impress. (For some handy tips to help your writing, check out Strunk & White’s old standby, The Elements of Styleor just cruise these two pages of free, expert advice from novelist Kurt Vonnegut.)

5. She could delegate.

Rather than try to deliver the Death Star blueprint Obi-Wan Kenobi on her own, she programmed R2-D2 to deliver the vital information. A good manager knows how to delegate tasks to their team. They trust and verify.

6. She could motivate.

Once, while fending off a swarm of Stormtroopers, Leia ordered Luke Skywalker and Han Solo to take refuge in a trash compactor. She knew the language to use to get through to her direct reports. Some workers are motivated by polite requests. Others need more forceful instruction (“Into the garbage chute, flyboy!”). Leia knew Han was the latter. A good leader takes their colleagues’ communication styles into account and fine-tunes the message accordingly.

7. She saw the bigger picture.

Leia knew the organization inside and out, cared deeply about her team and the larger mission, and could orchestrate tactics that optimized and harmonized the various talents of her underlings. She had a hand in everything, from the Rebels’ retreat from their secret Hoth base to commanding X-Wing pilots on their Death Star assault. Although too much involvement in projects can actually contravene good leadership, Leia brought a diverse enough skillset and knowledge base to the table that she could use her powers creatively, not disastrously.

8. She kept her sense of humor.

Aren’t you a little short to be a stormtrooper?” “I don’t know where you get your delusions, laser brain.” “I know what you’re gonna say: I changed my hair.” No doubt about it, Leia was funny. She could deliver an absurdist jab or a bit of deadpan understatement perfectly. While not necessarily essential for good leadership, the ability to deploy a bit of well-timed humor can deflate tension, cultivate joy and build camaraderie. Note (this is crucial!): Princess Leia knew how to read her audience. She didn’t cross the line or go too far. If you’re currently unable to read a room, maybe take an improv class or do some standup open mics before trying out your wit at work.

9. She was thoughtful yet decisive when met with pressing expectations.

Leia could evaluate multiple courses of action and commit to one. She neither went with her gut nor overanalyzed urgent situations. She wasn’t afraid to push colleagues to step up their game when necessary. And, when her team succeeded, she didn’t hesitate to publicly praise them, as in the awards ceremony scene that closes A New Hope. Great managers do likewise. They don’t coddle their teammates, but they don’t withhold recognition or encouragement either. They create and sustain an atmosphere of openness, accountability and support.

10. She believed in herself and her team.

Everything Leia did oozed self-belief and devotion to a higher cause. As the bedrock of all leadership, self-confidence and team trust are necessary (but not sufficient) conditions for success. This is not cockiness or over-optimism, but a kind of energy source that feeds innovation and sustains morale. (If you need to ramp up that self-belief, try mindfulness meditation. It works, seriously. Side benefit: massive reduction in anxiety.)

How about you?

Could your leadership skills use some growth or intervention? AIM Institute offers two leadership development programs specifically designed with IT professionals in mind.

If you, like Leia, want to be both boss (adjective) and the boss (noun), the foundational AIM IT Emerging Leaders Program and the more intensive IT Leadership Academy provide pathways to effective IT management. Over the years, hundreds of students have built the skills they need to move from technical positions into management. Check out this page for more information.

AIM’s Emerging Leaders Program spring session has moved from an in-person modality to an online one. The class begins April 23. Sign up now through Eventbrite!

Questions? Contact Monika Philp at monika@nullaiminstitute.org

(Note: this article was co-written with Matt Swanson, Marketing Coordinator for the AIM Institute. Featured photo comes from Emily L. Hauser’s excellent article for The Week, “Princess Leia, feminist hero.”)

KANEKO Welcomes You to Infotec 2020

Posted on - AIM Newsroom, Community, Tech Education

We’re not the only ones excited for Infotec 2020, the Silicon Prairie’s premier annual business tech community gathering. This year’s conference takes place April 17 from 8 am to 5 pm at KANEKO, an arts and culture nonprofit dedicated to exploring and celebrating creativity across all fields of human activity, including technology, the arts, business, philosophy, civic planning, and more.

Click the video above to watch a warm welcome from Christopher Halbkat and Samuel Bertino of KANEKO.

About Infotec 2020

Infotec will focus on four of the most relevant tracks to businesses and technology leaders. Discussion topics and breakout sessions include:

  • AI & Machine Learning
    • Spotting Fake News with Machine Learning
    • Demystifying Artificial Intelligence
  • Cloud Technology
    • Introduction to Docker with Live Coding
    • Microservices with Kubernetes in Azure
  • Data & Cybersecurity
    • Building a Data Team from Within
    • Live Hacking Demonstration
  • Leadership
    • Agile and Digital Transformation
    • From Operational Toil to SRE

More to come!

Featured Keynotes

Paul Jarrett – Co-Founder and CEO of Bulu

Pamela J. Boyers, PhD – Associate Vice Chancellor, Clinical Simulation, iEXCEL

Check out our Eventbrite page for more information and to snag your early bird ticket.

Hurry! Early registration ends next week on March 13.

 

 

What is the AIM Institute? The tl;dr version

Posted on - AIM Newsroom, Community, Tech Education, Youth

The AIM Institute is a nonprofit that builds the tech community through education and career development. We improve the Silicon Prairie by removing barriers to technology education and strengthening the IT workforce. Check out the “too long, didn’t read” list below of what we do or watch this video to see the impact we make.

Education

AIM Code School
AIM Youth in Tech
Brain Exchange
Set Your AIM
Silicon Prairie News

Career Development

Emerging Leaders Program
IT Leadership Academy
Heartland Developers Conference
Infotec
Tech Celebration
Please join us in building the tech community we need for the future we want. We especially need help with our AIM Youth in Tech programs, which provide no-cost technology education to youth who might not otherwise have the chance to experience tech. It costs only $1.36 per day to provide an entire year’s worth of programming to an underserved student, including educational materials and snacks.
[button link=”https://aiminstitute.org/donate-to-aim/?utm_medium=Blog&utm_source=BrainExchange&utm_campaign=Blog&utm_content=022520_donatetoaim” type=”big” newwindow=”yes”] Donate to AIM Youth in Tech[/button]

UNO Scott Scholars Work with AIM to Design Cohesion, Tell Our Story

Posted on - AIM Newsroom, Community, Tech Education, Youth

UNO first-year Computer Science major Zander Gibney’s favorite local nonprofit is—and we cannot stress this enough—the AIM Institute.

Zander plans to pursue a career in video game development and spends a lot of his time buckling down to study. In that respect, he’s not unusual. Many university students study hard too, especially in the 24-to-48 hour panic window before midterms.

But Zander stays intensely busy year-round, not just with his demanding coursework, but also with his YouTube channel Lettuce Rock, which features short films he has written, directed and starred in. He’s also a member of the most prestigious scholarship program extended by the University of Nebraska system: the Scott scholarship.

Named for local billionaire Walter Scott, Jr. (no relation to 19th century Scottish author of Ivanhoe and Rob Roy, as far as we know) the Scott Scholars program is open to the most talented and promising students in the UNL College of Engineering, UNO College of Information Science and Technology, and other STEM-related programs. The scholarship completely funds an undergrad’s university education, including tuition, room and board, and supplementary learning experiences.

A public service leadership component is required of the scholars. Teams of ten students collaborate with a local nonprofit to assess organizational issues. Each team then creates a strategic plan for their respective nonprofit. For the next four years of their university experience, the teams help guide and implement the approved plan.

Every year, multiple nonprofits benefit from the work of Scott Scholars. How are the nonprofits chosen? By the students themselves.

“Individually, we all ranked which nonprofits we wanted to work with,” Zander said. “My number one was AIM.”

We’re glad to hear that. And we’re glad to welcome them into our mission to grow, connect and inspire the tech community.

Using the principle of design thinking, Zander and his team spent weeks interviewing AIM leadership, employees and program participants, as well as community members at large. They diagnosed pain points and identified issues they saw in the organization overall. This approach allows the team to suspend egos and design an AIM-centric strategy.

In other words, as Zander put it, “You go in with the core issue people are having and not what you think the issue is.”

Students then reconvene to start imagining solutions, taking a cue from improv acting.

“You don’t want to shoot down ideas, because what if they’re amazing?” he said. “What they taught us to do is to use the improv technique of ‘Yes, and’ thinking.”

That’s good, because to engage in “No, but” thinking constitutes the technical faux pas of scene-blocking—the bane of any talented improviser’s existence (or any innovator’s, for that matter).

What did the Scott Scholars come up with?

Zander summed it up: “We saw an image problem. People didn’t really understand what AIM was about, whether they were donors or participants in the programs. It felt like a huge disconnect with everything that was going on.”

While we can’t tell you exactly the big idea the group devised, rest assured you will soon see evidence of the Scott Scholars’ design thinking in action, perhaps at your computer, perhaps in a quiet moment of distraction at work or school, perhaps anytime wherever you are.

New “Callers to Coders” Program Announced in Partnership with Physicians Mutual

Posted on - AIM Newsroom, Community, Tech Education

We’re excited to announce the launch of Callers to Coders, an innovative new tech training pathway that helps career changers and veterans upskill themselves into IT careers. This yearlong program teaches call center employees the technical skills they need to get a higher paying tech job.

During the workday, participants undergo five AIM Code School modules that build on one another:

  • the fundamentals of hardware & software
  • Python data science
  • front-end web development
  • full-stack programming

Employees earn their normal wages while in class, and the sponsoring employer pays for the training.

Physicians Mutual is sending five students through the program beginning the last week of February.

This is great news. Not just for the local tech talent workforce, but for the employees and their families. In October, a CNBC/SurveyMonkey Workplace Happiness Survey of 8,155 workers found that 90 percent of tech workers are very or at least somewhat satisfied with their job. That same survey found that tech workers report higher pay, better career advancement opportunities, and feel more valued in the workplace than workers in other fields.

We have room for more corporate partners to join us on Callers to Coders. Check out today’s article in Silicon Prairie News for more info, or contact Nate Decker at ndecker@nullaiminstitute.org.

AIM Code School Coming to Lincoln this February

Posted on - AIM Newsroom, Press Releases, Tech Education

AIM Code School is expanding our web development training to Lincoln next month. Starting Feb. 25, we’re offering our Foundations of Web Development class at Turbine Flats, a mixed-use co-working space featuring a coffee shop, startup incubator, lending library, and a variety of formal and informal networking opportunities.

The class runs twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 to 9:30 pm for ten weeks (Feb. 25 to April 30). When students graduate, they will have everything they need to know to land a position as a junior developer. Along the way, AIM Code School tech navigators will work with partnering organizations to find students meaningful employment in technology.

Located in a beautifully repurposed manufacturing building built in 1907 at 2124 Y St, Turbine Flats has become a cornerstone of the Lincoln startup and tech communities. We are grateful to join this thriving ecosystem and offer tech education to those who want to pursue a rewarding career in programming.

“Expanding to Lincoln gives us the opportunity to train more members of the tech workforce and fill the IT talent gap facing the Midwest,” said Nate Decker, Student and Employer Engagement Coordinator for AIM Code School.

The expansion is great news for aspiring coders who live in the Lincoln metro and for whom Omaha is too lengthy a commute.

“We want to remove as many obstacles as we can for people considering a career in tech. Whether those barriers are financial or geographical, we are committed to helping anyone who wants to find a better job develop the tools to do so,” Decker added.

Grant funding and scholarships are available. For questions or additional info, contact Nate Decker at 402-345-5025 x 447 or ndecker@nullaiminstitute.org. You may also email hello@nullaimcodeschool.org or visit aimcodeschool.org.

Leadership Development for Smarties: from Source Code to the Boardroom

Posted on - AIM Newsroom, Community, Tech Education

A first-rate developer is easy to spot. You can quantify how many languages a person knows, how effectively they work, how much value they offer. Evidence of their talent is tangible, well-documented, and often literally glowing.

Good managerial candidates are less noticeable. Someone might be a persuasive presenter of innovative ideas, but lack follow-through. Another might boost the morale of everyone around them, but have a hard time delivering bad news. One might seem like the greatest UX designer in the world, but is actually just three children in a trenchcoat.

Fortunately, companies can reliably transform tech talent into great leaders through specialized IT leadership development training, like the AIM Institute’s IT Emerging Leaders Program.

Designed for the unique challenges of the tech industry, the IT Emerging Leaders Program helps tech professionals develop leadership skills and transition from a tech path to a managerial track.

Attendees learn about personal growth, relationship building, effective communication skills, resource optimization and intelligent career development strategies. They enjoy access to presentations by high-performing IT managers, peer-to-peer discussion and problem-solving workshops that help them troubleshoot real-world scenarios technology leaders face every day.

“I Knew I Could Do Great Things”

Ryan Markus and Brian Cary of TEAM Software both attended the eight-week course at crucial junctures in their lives.

“We were both kind of at the same spot in our careers: the go-to guys,” said Markus, now a Senior Software Engineer at TEAM Software.

While neither he nor Cary carried any formal authority at the time, coworkers still tended to go to them for help, regardless of job titles.

TEAM Software took notice. With a culture that prizes investment in its employees’ growth, the company paid for Markus and Cary to enroll in the IT Emerging Leaders Program.

“I knew I could do great things, but I wasn’t sure how to get there,” Markus said.

Testing the Leadership Waters

The Emerging Leaders Program is especially suited toward tech professionals who wonder whether a move to management would suit them. Perhaps they’re curious about what it takes to lead, but aren’t sure they’d be good at it. The Emerging Leaders Program not only helps IT professionals develop leadership skills, it also gives them a low-risk chance to determine whether they even want to manage.

Ultimately, the Emerging Leaders Program whetted Markus’s appetite for more intensive leadership training. He enrolled in the nine-month AIM IT Leadership Academy, an in-depth leadership development course for current and upcoming IT managers.

Cary, on the other hand, had already minored in business leadership at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln during his undergraduate years. But he’d been working as a software developer for five years and wanted a refresher on the formal leadership training he’d already undergone before entering the workforce.

“A lot of the emerging leaders was, for me, more about the connections and the anecdotes that we heard from industry professionals that came in,” Cary said. “That was really good for me because I was able to ask a lot of questions about people who made the transition between technology and leadership.”

People like the Chief Technology Officer of Farm Credit Services, who started as a software developer and transitioned into the CTO role, deeply impressed Cary. “Those types of things were what I really wanted to hear about from people in the industry,” he said.

Like Markus, Cary enrolled in the more intensive AIM IT Leadership Academy as soon as he graduated from the Emerging Leaders Program.

Investing in Employee Growth Pays Off

Shortly after graduating from the Leadership Academy, Cary landed a major promotion. He now works as Software Development Manager for TEAM Software, and is the direct report for eight software & data engineers working across multiple Agile engineering teams.

Markus said the Emerging Leaders Program quickly instilled in him the confidence and skills to start exercising leadership more naturally—skills like relationship-building.

“Dealing with people is pretty challenging sometimes,” Markus said. “Sometimes, it makes software look easy.”

If you or someone in your company is wondering whether to transition from tech to management, direct them to the AIM IT Emerging Leaders Program. Classes start April 23 and are held every other Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m. at various locations around Omaha. Early-bird registration is available until March 1.

This post originally published by Silicon Prairie News.

Putting the Work In: Jordi Becerril Is a Rising Star in Tech

Posted on - AIM Newsroom, Community, Tech Education

Jordi Becerril didn’t see a lot of Latinx people working in technology when he was growing up. An avid gamer, the South Omaha native enjoyed taking apart XBoxes and Playstations to study how they worked⁠—and to see if he could put them back together again. 

But, because he never noticed any programmers he could really identify with, he assumed that an IT career path was simply off-limits.

It wasn’t until a representative from AIM Code School visited his class at Omaha South High School that a revelation hit him.

“It doesn’t matter where you come from,” he said. “Just put the work in. That’s one of the things that propels you forward.” 

He’s right. The 22-year-old now works as a technical specialist for Mutual of Omaha, providing production support on application development. He also does freelance front-end projects, such as this website he made for his former soccer team.

Becerril embarked on his tech journey during his senior year of high school. He took an introductory workshop at AIM Code School to learn the fundamentals of coding. After graduating high school, he enrolled in a ten-week AIM Code School Foundations of Web Development class and became well-versed in HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Although a natural autodidact, Becerril thought the structure and networking opportunities of a code school would accelerate his maturation.

“I knew I had the drive, but sometimes it’s good to ask for help,” he said.

The move paid off. Becerril used his newfound skills to teach computer programming classes for low-income high school kids in the summer of 2017. Then, in July, he landed a sweet gig as a front-end developer with Appsky, a local creative agency specializing in software, design, and consulting. He flexed his skills on e-commerce websites and mobile apps.

He loved the job. Unfortunately, agency life is famously topsy turvy. A year-and-a-half into the job he loved, Becerril had to leave Appsky last February. 

So he found himself back at AIM Code School, taking a Java course. He wanted to become a full-stack developer—someone professionally skilled in both front-end and back-end development. After finishing the 14-week class, he applied for a technical specialist job at Mutual of Omaha and got it.

Now, not only is he putting his full stack abilities to work, he enjoys support from experienced mentors, as well as great career resources and advancement opportunities.

“This is a huge deal for Jordi,” said AIM Code School Student and Employer Engagement Coordinator Nate Decker. “We’re all very proud of him.”

“I used to wash dishes for a living,” Becerril said. “And now I code.”

While he’s not knocking dishwashers—he respects anyone working the position—he knows that programming is a better fit for him. And, as a first generation American of Mexican descent, he wants underrepresented youth to know that programming might be a good fit for them, too, even if they’ve never imagined themselves building technology before.

“You don’t always get the same opportunities as other people. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try,” Becerrill said. “My parents both came here with nothing.” 

Aside from work, Becerril enjoys spending time with his girlfriend and continually learning and improving his development skills. His main goals are to become the best programmer he can possibly be, and to find a way to give back, preferably as a teacher educating the next generation of coders. He wants to help build a community that propels youth to achieve their dreams, no matter what situation they come from.

Check out Jordi Becerril’s portfolio here.

 

Nearly 1,000 Iowa Junior High Students Learned to Code Today. That’s Good News.

Posted on - Community, Tech Education, Youth

Today, with the help of the AIM Institute, nearly 1,000 students at Woodrow Wilson Junior High School in Council Bluffs learned the fundamentals of computer programming as part of the international Hour of Code initiative. 

Principal Mike Naughton expressed his excitement over every student getting a firsthand experience with coding during their science classes.

“Anytime you can get kids interested in technology, it’s a great accomplishment,” Naughton said.

In 8th grade science teacher Preston Vorthmann’s room, students huddled over screens and completed a series of games involving blocks of code. This easy-to-learn coding language, called Scratch, introduces the operational concepts of programming in a kid-friendly format. Rather than typing out daunting strings of variables and if-then statements, students create algorithms by assembling code blocks logically, as if fitting puzzle pieces together.

Those algorithms control the behavior of onscreen characters. As students build functional code, they progress through game levels. Students that made it all the way through received an official AIM Institute Hour of Code Certificate on fancy parchment paper, signed in cursive by Mr. Vorthmann.

This was the fourth year that the AIM Institute has partnered with Wilson JHS to host Hour of Code, a one-hour, entry-level introduction to computer science designed to demystify code and interest people in technology, no matter their level of education. Hour of Code has served over 835 million people in 180 countries, according to code.org. The majority of participants come from underrepresented communities, and nearly 50 percent of participants identify as female.

While not everyone who participates in Hour of Code will feel the urge to become a programmer, Vorthmann said some students have become particularly excited about technology after trying it out for themselves.

“There was a kid earlier in the class who went in and actually looked at the lines of code,” he said. Rather than dragging the code blocks together with a mouse, the student typed out the algorithms.

This is great news for the AIM Institute, a not-for-profit organization that grows, connects and inspires the tech talent community through education and career development. The organization’s mission is to close the tech talent gap facing businesses in the Silicon Prairie, to introduce people to technology who might not otherwise have the chance to experience, and to help people become programmers through AIM Code School, the area’s only federally accredited nonprofit code school.

“We’ve found that if you don’t get children interested in technology by middle school, they’ll probably never develop that interest,” said Jonathan Holland, Senior Director of Educational Programs for the AIM Institute.

As technology introduces new modes of communication, entertainment, and industry (and renders some obsolete) a lack of tech literacy limits a student’s ability to participate in the world. It also cuts them off from pursuing careers in tech, which tend to pay significantly higher wages than non-tech jobs. 

That is why the AIM Institute works so hard to reach youth, implementing tech education in 16 schools across the metro area. The organization has helped thousands of students develop tech skills over the years, and is continuing to expand its reach. To help support the AIM Institute’s Youth-in-Tech Expansion initiative, the organization encourages you to make a donation before the end of the year.

 

Meet our Tech Student of the Year: Amanda Crone

Posted on - Community, Tech Education, Youth

Amanda Crone is fiercely talented. She can code. She can take apart computers and put them back together again. She can manage her time well. And she can stand in front of 500 people and deliver an acceptance speech.

That’s exactly what the Thomas Jefferson High School senior did at the 2019 AIM Tech Celebration awards ceremony Nov. 21. Amanda won the Tech Student of the Year award, one of several recognitions the AIM Institute gives out to spotlight the amazing contributions and innovations of the local tech community.

Amanda was nervous, having never given a speech of that magnitude before.

“Trying to figure out what to say and how much to say, but also to make it meaningful, was probably the hardest part,” she said.

She didn’t even know she’d been nominated until after she won the award. Sitting in class earlier this month, somebody texted her to check her email. When she did, she saw that she’d won the prestigious award—and that she and her family would get to attend Tech Celebration for her acceptance speech to the technology community.

“I think it’s really cool,” she said. “I was super excited.”

Amanda first got interested in technology when she joined the AIM Upward Bound program at Thomas Jefferson. Upward Bound is a federal TRIO program that helps students from disadvantaged backgrounds succeed in their precollege performance. AIM coordinates Upward Bound programs and provides free technology education at five area high schools.

She joined the robotics club, then took some computer science classes. She can code HTML, CSS, and Java—so far.

“I want to learn more. I’m taking a C++ class later this year,” she said.

This past summer, she not only attended AIM’s Cybersleuth Camp—a weeklong cybersecurity camp for girls that seeks to raise interest in cybersecurity careers—she helped design the curriculum. Clearly, Amanda has already got a head start on the career she aspires to: a cybersecurity engineer, possibly for the FBI.

In her spare time, Amanda loves to read, particularly fantasy and sci-fi novels. Her favorite authors are Rick Riordan and Marissa Mayer. She loves to learn new things, and she volunteers at Dreamland Park. On her own initiative, she also teaches younger students how to code at both Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln high schools.

Next year, she plans to enter the cybersecurity program at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, for reasons that many readers might find familiar. “UNO is close, but not too close. It has a really good computer science program.”

When asked what she wants to be in the future, Amanda said she wants to be very successful. “I want to be the person that somebody goes to when they have a question about computer science. A thought leader.”

By all accounts, she’s on her way.