At Kenzie Academy, we’re celebrating Black History Month by shining light on Kenzie Black alums who are making history.
Kenzie was built upon a foundation that was cemented with the ideals of diversity and equity, cultivating an inclusive community where everyone can feel comfortable, safe, and empowered to follow their aspirations.
February is a special month for the Kenzie community because not only do we honor the legacies of those from our history, but we also celebrate our Black learners and alums who represent the future of a more diverse tech world.
Meet Our Alums Who May Inspire Your Journey
Five alums open up about their successes and how they’re making an impact as Black tech professionals. If you’re considering a new future in tech, make sure to check out their advice too!
- Katrine Jackson ‘20, Web Development
- Tamekia Nelson ‘20, Software Engineering
- Akil Mcelhannon ‘21, Full-Stack Web Development
- Moe Logins ‘20, Software Engineering
- Diarte Jeffcoat-McLeod ‘20, Software Engineering
Life After Kenzie: Biggest Win
My biggest win has been able to secure a career in IT. Kenzie helped prepare me for a career change and to feel confident doing so.
My biggest brag moment has been the ability to finally build my first home. That is something that I’ve always wanted to do, but it seemed so far out of reach. I got a chance to witness the joy my children had on their faces going through the various stages of the build, picking out their own rooms, and running around their new home. It has been such a great experience, and it means so much to me that opportunities were opened to allow me to give that joy to my family.
I was able to land two jobs in tech within 10 months of graduating!
Becoming a Cloud Solution Architect at Microsoft!
Actually getting that first offer and knowing that my tech career was going to begin. Also, being able to work with my first client who I’m still working with today.
Impacting the Tech Industry as a Black Tech Professional
I’m showing others they can be what they want at any time in their life. Don’t let race or age stop you. IT is an ‘everyone’ field.
As a Black tech professional, I think it is very important to be a voice for minorities and especially minority women who are trying to navigate the field. It took time and dedication to myself and my craft to get my first ‘yes.’
With that being said, I have been talking it out and developing a plan to build and create a youth center in my old neighborhood. I was able to ‘make it out,’ but I want to give back and create a safe space where people from my old neighborhood can come in, have a nice space to learn about tech and be given a chance to be emerged in the field.
If I can be the spark or even create a space for discovering a passion outside of social norms for most people living in my old neighborhood, that would be such a blessing and help break so many generational curses.
I want to have representation of color and inspire those that want to be in tech.
I started a local (Western NY) Blacks in Technology chapter, so that tech resources, guidance, networking, and opportunities could be available to Black men and women in my community — allowing them to learn, share their expertise, and/or advance their careers.
I play a small part in a bigger picture of diversity, inclusion, and opportunity for many who aspire to be in the industry. I want to have every one of my generation know that we do have places outside of the comfort zone that we allow ourselves to settle for in society.
Advice for Learners with Dreams to Work in Tech
Do it! Get a mentor that identifies with your uniqueness and needs — mentors that can identify with you, help you understand better, and can help you overcome obstacles that others may not have.
Simply don’t give up. I had every reason to doubt myself, my abilities, and give up. I cried many nights thinking I wasn’t good enough or smart enough to make it through the curriculum. Even after earning my certificate, I flew out for jobs that had so much potential, and I was later turned down. When I didn’t get job offers after two, three, and even four rounds of interviews, I felt defeated. The one thing I never did was give up. In a sea of ‘no’s,’ as Chok always said, you only need one ‘yes.’
Always bet on yourself!
Don’t try to go at it alone. There are companies and communities/groups out there that are looking to help you reach your goals. Join these groups, seek out mentors, and attend the meetings and conferences so you can learn more about what’s available to you.
You are worth it and so much more. Build your legacy. Don’t let it be built or decided for you.
Are You Next?
Katrine, Tamekia, Akil, Moe, and Diarte were once in your shoes. Excuses and self-doubt overshadowed dreams and goals. But ultimately, they decided they wanted to change their life and choose Kenzie Academy to help them lay down the path toward a career in tech.
If you’re interested in following in their footsteps, apply today! We can talk about why you’re interested in the tech field, discuss our program offerings, or just chat about what you want your future to look like.