Sophomore year in high school and desperately looking for a class to fill a credit requirement, the school advisor gave me the mysterious option of taking HTML programming. The class was in a dark computer lab; bright monitors illuminated the faces of those busily typing away. I sat down, logged in and Mrs. Canaga our professor greeted the room. Looking around I was one of two girls in a 40 student classroom. There I was, feeling out of my element in my letterman jacket, curiously wondering why the 38 boys in the room nervously avoided direct eye contact.
In the back of the room there was a half wall with bars stretching from the wall to ceiling. That room was for the ultra geeks; the kids that maintained the schools computers and network. I eventually learned it was called the cage. There he was: clad in a leather jacket and intensely focused, I assumed on something important, Eli was the nerdiest guy in the room–let’s make that the school. I was introduced to him when my professor was busy and requested Eli to help me and another student stumble through getting a table to appear with what I thought was some sort of html voodoo. He was happy to help, patient and became an excellent resource for asking questions. Most days the room was quiet, that was unless I entered into a fit of laughter, which if I was lucky would have a domino effect on the geeks and I would get a couple of squeaky giggles.
Eli and I became fast friends, riding bikes, coding web pages. I even learned to be slightly interested and appreciate video games. Both enjoying our interest in technology and taming HTML. I patiently waited for him to tinker and build computers and he seemed to have a never ending pool of patience for fixing all the computers in my family.
It just took two people to get me involved in technology and be my support pillars to help navigate the maze of learning and opportunities. I personally might be rare as I didn’t mind and often wear my geek badge proudly, but at that age at 15 most of my friends saw the world of technology, math and science to be “uncool”. Classes that were artistically focused, or what I can now say were comfortable, were the ones that most of my friends leaned towards.
In addition to Mrs. Canaga and Eli helping me to learn HTML, our career counseling center twice brought in women professionals from the tech industry. Women that were leaders at companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Verizon. We were able to ask questions, and admire how these women were actually “ultra cool” geeks and were proud of the educational and career choices they made. To say the least, I was inspired and still think about and appreciate those early years of learning about all the opportunities in technology.
Eli and I are married and besides being geeks we have a little mini farm (horse, donkey, ducks, dogs, a cat). He works as a developer for Cheezburger Network and I focus on online marketing, websites and social media for small and startup businesses. Both of us are passionate about the importance of technology education, especially around choices and resources.
What got you into technology and who supported you to learn, grow and become a geek?