Angelika Modawal learns from entrepreneurs and technology leaders at prestigious gathering
By M. K. Meier, Communications Intern, CECH
Information Technology student Angelika Modawal earned the opportunity of a lifetime and participated in the White House’s “Champions of Change for Tech Inclusion” event this summer in Washington, DC. The event was part of the White House Tech Inclusion Initiative, an effort to encourage a diverse group of young people to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Education, and Mathematics (STEM).
It was at this event that Modawal fully realized the valuable voice and role that she has in the technology industry as a young adult and woman.
As one of five recipients of the “Award for Aspirations in Computing” sponsored by the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT), Modawal attended the event at the invitation of Ruthe Farmer, director of strategic initiative at NCWIT. Farmer was one of 11 recipients who were honored at the White House’s event for the work they are doing to expand opportunities for minorities, women, and girls, who are historically underserved or unrepresented in technology fields.
For Modawal, the opportunity to meet leaders and entrepreneurs upped the “cool factor” of technology. “It was empowering to see so many successful executive-level minorities and women who are leading the conversation on how to bring tech to different communities, particularly low-income populations,” she said.
The one-day event took place in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, an area off-limits to the public. Modawal described the panels and Q&A sessions as unique because they brought 20 leaders together from an interesting cross-section of America: business, IT, government, policy, and non-profit. Among the topics explored, participants discussed how to better empower minorities and women in technology, how to mentor, and how to fit project-based learning into technology and science curricula.
Modawal was inspired by many presenters and sponsors at the event, such as Yvette Pugh, director of external affairs at AT&T, Carlos Bueno, Facebook engineer and author, Mitch Kapor, philanthropist and founding chair of Mozilla and creator of Firefox, and Rebecca Garcia, co-founder of two non-profit organizations. Modawal notes how she gained special insight from Garcia, who encouraged women to use other women’s experiences like stepping stones.
Another highlight of the event was an evening reception at Google where Baratunde Thurston, the emcee of the Champions of Change panel, asked Modawal if she is an entrepreneur and, thereby, encouraged her to think more deeply about the role she can play. She said, “It really made me think -- What is my impact? How can I make tech better?”
Currently, as an IT student at the University of Cincinnati, Modawal is a Cincinnati Scholar and a co-op student at Eaton Corporation in Cleveland. She has completed several internships, but said her current co-op experience on a seasoned corporate team has been a new and exciting challenge.
“This is a very different experience for me,” Modawal said. “But the IT + MBA program at UC is very competitive, and it has prepared me well for the business world.”