Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies,
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

These are the lyrics extracted from Maya Angelou’s famous poem, Phenomenal Women. 

To be a phenomenal woman is to be one who is mentally strong and who sees superwoman as her reflection in the mirror every day. We live in a world where our power is threatened daily – 35% of us worldwide experience violence by a non-partner while 70% of us experience the hits and the beats from our dearest – this is disgraceful. Furthermore, it has been reported by the World Economic Forum that it will take 108 years to close the gender gap – we will not even be alive by then to watch this occur. It is time to put our crowns and capes on, and show as Beyonce says “Who runs the world? Girls”.

Rewriting the Code Fellowship Program is a classic example of how to cultivate Phenomenal Women. Their ideology is “Incredible women. Incredible futures”. This is achieved through the creation of opportunities for undergraduate and master computer science and engineering-related female students. The opportunity consists of a program run each year from April to August, where “princesses” are given tools such as opportunities for educational programming, industry exploration, networking, peer coaching, mentoring with industry leaders and the potential to drop their tiaras for crowns to become Queens of the tech world by landing a summer internship or full-time job with one of Rewriting the Code’s partner companies.

“Real Queens Fix Each other’s Crowns”

Key takeaways from the interview with Deborah:

Meet & Learn from our Queen: Deborah Mepaiyeda 

1. How did you prepare for the program?

I prepared for the program by reading the information provided to me and discussing what the program entails. I also developed ideas on how I can make the most of it.

2. How long did it take for you to prepare?

It took me about a few hours. This program is one in which you keep improving yourself and learning.

3. Tell us about the application and recruiting process

I had to fill out an application that included answering questions and submitting my resume. Once I was accepted, an email was sent to me.

4. Why do you think you were selected?

I think I was selected because of my involvement in various student groups and the awards that I have received. Also, it might be due to the fact that I was a student when I applied.

5. Describe your experience in this program. Could be your story. Feel free to write about anything fun, deep, emotional, or motivating! 

I moved from Nigeria to Canada at the age of 8. The move was a significant change for me. It taught me how to adapt to a new culture and environment. From a young age, I loved games, which made me ask my parents for a Nintendo DS. With time, my affection for them grew, and it spurred my love for technology. But I did not know how they were made. When the time came for me to decide on my post-secondary program, I found Computer Science (CS) an ideal option for learning two things that I love – Computers and Science. However, I had no coding experience and did not know what CS entailed. I also discovered that there were more men in the program, and this gender imbalance made me want to improve the percentage of women in CS. 

Considering the gender imbalance, I joined the Ryerson Women in Computer Science (WiCS) student group and became the Vice President (VP) of Outreach. This VP role allowed me to share my CS interest with high school students. However, I felt I was not doing enough to help other females study CS with confidence. In my last two years at the school, I became the President and VP Marketing, respectively. In these roles, I encouraged first-year female CS students. I was also able to create awareness of various WiCS events and involve more first-year female CS students. As part of the WiCS Student Ambassador Program, I mentored high school students and ran coding workshops to expose them to CS. Outside school, I am involved in Rewriting The Code (RTC). The organization focuses on empowering women in post-secondary education with a passion for technology. In it, I lead two groups – the RTC Summer Cohort and a small group. In these groups, I organize and facilitate events for women in the RTC community. This is to create a virtual space for them to develop their skills and learn from one another. In the future, I aspire to become a Software Engineer to improve peoples’ lives by developing products that will help them do things in easier ways. I also want to inspire the next generation and bring more women into tech.

6. What are some of the tips you would like to give?

I advise future applicants to apply and give the program a shot. It is an awesome way to meet new people, connect with companies, and grow professionally.

7. Any advice for future applicants in the same program?

I advise them to highlight their extracurricular activities and share their professional experiences. They should identify what makes them different and share that in their application.

INTERESTED?

You will need to meet the following requirements for the program:

  • Be a current or incoming (Fall 2020) female student in a U.S. or Canadian college or university in pursuit of a bachelor’s or master’s degree
  • Be entering their 1st-4th year studying a subject that could lead to a career in tech (such as Computer Science, Engineering, Math, Statistics, etc.)
  • Produce a resume that clearly showcases experiences and projects that use the technical skills you have obtained in and out of the classroom

Applications are currently closed for the 2020-2021 Fellowship. 

Applications reopen on April 1st 2021. Find out more HERE!

To be you is the best recipe for success. Be proud of who you are. Own who you are. Never let your cape nor your crown fall off. You are a Queen. Scholarships and internships come and go – but who you are is all that you are left with. Utilize every opportunity that comes your way, including this article, as a mechanism to train your inner voice to emerge and come to light into this dark world. Be inspired to be transpired. Continuous self-growth is the key that will unlock opportunities for you no matter where you go. Your ambitions are our priority – create your ambitions and write your goals as we at Scholarship Track bring you more opportunities and inspirational stories to allow you to climb up your own ladder to success. Today is the day your story begins, queens!

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

INSPIRED?

Reach out to Deborah on her LinkedIn HERE!

Please let her know you are reaching out to her from Scholarship Track!

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