Growing up in a low-income, Spanish-speaking household in South Omaha, Evelyn Espinoza-Macias said she always struggled with a language barrier.
Her parents, though supportive, could not speak English or provide the same level of help on schoolwork that many of her peers received. The Latinx young woman remembers spending countless extra hours at school working hard to learn English. Eventually, after a lot of work, she became fluent in the language and set her sights on life after high school.
Espinoza-Macias had dreamed of becoming a lawyer, but her career plans would change markedly during her senior year. Upon hearing of the AIM Institute’s free code camp at Omaha South High School, and with encouragement from her teachers, she signed up. Though difficult, the class sparked a passion for coding and helped her realize the advantages of a tech career.
Although she doubted she would get selected, she applied anyway. In summer 2020, she landed the internship. Since August, she has been exposed to new technology concepts while working for the Fortune 500 company’s IT department—all while majoring in cybersecurity at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
“Evelyn has been doing really well,” said Addison Parker, Senior Project Engineer for Union Pacific. “She’s learning a lot about business and IT. I’ve got her working on some real projects that will add value to the company.”
Had AIM not offered the Omaha South High School code camp, Espinoza-Macias’s career path would look much different. The program inspired her to embark on a life-changing journey that will define her future and reveal her potential to be a technology leader.
Thanks to AIM, Espinoza-Macias learned the foundational web development skills that earned her a prestigious internship at Union Pacific, a Fortune 500 company. Although she found the class difficult initially, AIM’s instructors worked with her until she understood the material. Now a freshman at UNO, Espinoza-Macias is the first in her family to attend college and looks forward to a challenging, lucrative, opportunity-rich career in technology. Her parents, who have always advised their three daughters to pursue work they truly enjoy, are delighted to see her flourish on her newfound tech career path.
Espinoza-Macias continues to grow her technical knowledge. In addition to her ongoing academic workload and UP internship, she enrolled in AIM Code School’s Java Specialization course. In this class, she will continue to advance her web development skills by focusing on the computer programming language Java, a language used primarily for back-end development, which will allow her to become proficient as a full stack developer.
“Evelyn is a bright and talented individual with strong leadership qualities, a truly dedicated young woman whose hard work will positively impact the world around her,” said AIM Code School instructor Vanessa Kasun. “It’s a real honor to have been part of her journey.”
It’s a journey that is important not only to Espinoza-Macias, but to the industry as a whole. Women make up just 26% of technology workers. Worse, women of color make up only 11% of the tech workforce. This lack of diversity perpetuates systemic biases and hampers the innovation that research has shown emerges from teams that operate with a diversity of perspectives and identities.
Additionally, Espinoza-Macias recently joined AIM’s tech mentorship program, which will connect her with a mentor who will help her navigate her burgeoning tech career.
SPN supports the role AIM plays in dismantling the unique barriers faced by young women interested in a career in technology. To help AIM continue building the tech community, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Youth in Tech program. Every little bit helps us increase access to the tech sector for hard-working, brilliant young women like Evelyn Espinoza-Macias.