This post was originally posted in Nerdy People a publication on Medium.com
Here’s my story
Before becoming an author, I began my career as a black woman in technology. I was a rarity then and not much has changed. While women have made great strides in the tech industry, black females still lag behind.
According to a 2021 report from AnitaB.org, women account for 26.7% of the tech workforce, and Black women respectively, make up only 1.7%. Ouch. That means only 1 out of every 100 engineers is a black woman — who gotta be pistons to keep up with all those white boys.
In Graduate School I majored in Information Technology. I was not only a nerd, but I was also a shy nerd. I took evening classes twice a week after work. I went to a Catholic University; where nuns were always popping up everywhere, in the cafeteria line or walking down hallways stiffly while carrying themselves high on pride. It took some getting used to.
That Cringe Worthy Class
I exceled in the design classes and in business theory. The class that made me cringe was Object Oriented Programming. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the “If…Then” statements. The examples seemed really pointless since they always involved something like If it is cloudy, Then it will be raining’.
My self-important professor would describe how this works in programming terms. But come on, there must have been better ways of explaining it without having us coding our way through every problem-solving forum on earth!
The Turning Point
It happened after the midterm, the experience that changed my life. My professor was concluding class handing out the test papers with the results. I expected a D on my test, but I got an F.
When he was done handing out the test papers, my professor went to the front of the classroom. He cleared his throat and called out my name and six other students to meet him in his office.
My professor was the Dean of the college. He was Italian with thick black curly hair. He styled it into a bro-fro. It was neatly kept but his hair protruded all around the top of his head like a stalk of broccoli.
I was anxious as were my classmates as we entered my professor’s office. He was sitting down at his brown, worn, wooden desk, surrounded by bookcases stuffed with computer books. My professor looked at us hard, his eyes were mean and serious and then he spoke to all of us.
“As you can see from your midterm test results you are not suited to remain in my class. I recommend you drop the class as soon as you can so you may receive a partial refund.”
WTF! I thought to myself. I looked at my classmates to see their reaction. They looked solemn, one guy was nodding his head up and down in agreement. Well I was pissed! How dare he tell me what I was capable of. I went home on the bus that night getting angrier and angrier.
I woke up with a clearer head, and vowed it wasn’t going to go down like that! Just thinking about it now makes me clench my teeth. It was time to get this party started again from scratch: I put an ad up and I was lucky enough to get a tutor who really broke it down in a way that I could understand. He had to break it down into molecules for me to understand, atomic molecules here folks.
Luckily my tutor was very patient; and oh yeah, my tutor was so hot and sexy that I could have died from being distracted. But instead of slowing me down or tempting my weak will; it only made try even harder.
With much stress and anxiety plaguing me the entire time, in the end I passed the class. I felt vindicated. I said goodbye to my hot tutor and went on with my studies and eventually graduated with a Master’s Degree in IT.
Go Ahead, Under Estimate Me
Being underestimated led me to success. I never thought I would be able to fly until that day when my professor underestimated me. It was a struggle. Then all of sudden everything clicked. Out of nowhere came this cape and yes you can call it wings if that’s what makes your heart happy!
Fuel For That Fire
It seems that being underestimated might actually be an advantage in some cases. Being underestimated can give you the opportunity to prove people wrong and show them what you’re really made of.
So, the next time someone tells you that you can’t do something or that your idea is terrible, take it as a challenge. Use it to fuel your fire and work harder than you ever have before. Let’s make those naysayers eat their words!
Til next time,