September marks the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, a time in which we recognize and pay tribute to the contributions of Hispanic Americans to the arts, politics, science, culture, and society as a whole. To celebrate the occasion, the Kenzie community came together at our Building Equity in Tech: Hispanic Heritage Month livestream.
During the livestream, we heard from Manny Ledoux, a Kenzie alum and current software engineer at Checkr who previously held an apprenticeship with Next Chapter, a program that creates pathways for formerly incarcerated individuals to obtain employment in tech. He shared his experience before Kenzie, during his time with us, and now, as a member of the tech community. We also highlighted 7 organizations that provide opportunities and create advantages for Black and Brown folks in the tech space.
Watch Manny Ledoux share his story during our Building Equity in Tech: Hispanic Heritage Month livestream!
“I’m sitting under some salon that we’re plumbing, getting dripped on by who knows what. I pull up my phone, and I’m scrolling through Facebook, and I see an ad for Kenzie. I was like, well, I had a lot of fun doing computer software stuff before. And so I think I should give it a shot again.”
Manny Ledoux’s story is one of our favorite ones at Kenzie Academy. He spent the latter part of his 20s incarcerated, facing drug troubles, and fraternizing with the wrong people. Then one day, Manny decided it was time to head down a new and improved path. He got married, started attending community college, and then had to put his education on pause due to the global pandemic. It was while working as a plumber that he found Kenzie Academy on that fateful day at the salon.
Once at Kenzie, Manny realized there were a few things that stuck out to him.
“First and foremost, would have to be the culture. The people have always, and I would hope always will be absolutely, just absolutely incredible individuals. They offer all kinds of support. Like there was just a very, very positive environment that’s conducive to a great learning experience.”
As his journey through Kenzie continued, Manny experienced what it’s like to be part of a dedicated and motivated support system.
“The staff was really, really good about taking care of the learners and any types of issues that they may have come across. They were willing to work with people. Just the staff, the institution, they’ve all been absolutely incredible to work with. The experience itself was great.”
Now, Manny is part of a dedicated team at Checkr and is on track to continue developing his career in tech. There is such a stark contrast between today and where he was years ago that Manny still can’t believe it.
“You know, I have to pinch myself sometimes. I used to sit in my jail cell and just think about, you know, what I was going to do when I got out. And at no point could I have ever dreamed that I would be as happy and, like, as fulfilled as I am today.”
It’s easy to see why a story filled with drive, motivation, and dedication to continue moving forward would be a favorite at Kenzie. It’s one of the reasons why we wanted to hear from Manny about the experience of being Hispanic in tech.
Success in Tech for Hispanic Individuals
During the livestream, Manny shared his thoughts on what success looks like for Hispanic individuals in the tech industry. According to him, as an individual, success can be measured based on how much you enjoy your work and how meaningful it is. In fact, success also has a lot to do with an efficient work/life balance. Evidently, financial stability and freedom are also factors that may signify success.
“Collectively, I think it’s a little different. Collectively success would mean no longer needing any of the DEI — diversity, equity, inclusion type of programs.”
“There would be equal representation. I think I saw the amount of representation for Hispanic people in tech is about 7 percent, whereas it’s about 70 percent White. We still have some work to do on that front.”
Manny also highlighted some of the initiatives for DEI that he’s currently interested in. To start, he mentioned Blizzard Entertainment’s Level Up U initiative, which seeks to diversify the video game development industry.
“I think a lot of these tech companies are really trying to go out of their way to be inclusive to all and it’s up to us to take them up on it.”
Manny even offered advice to any of those individuals who may be on the fence about beginning their very own tech journey.
“I know this is going to sound super cliche, but the only reason I’ve gone this far is because I believe in myself. I am confident in what I bring to the table, who I am as an individual, and my skill set as a programmer.”
“There was a lot of rejection initially, but I think the biggest thing that has kept me going through them was my belief in myself. It doesn’t matter what anybody else sees, I know I can do it. I just have to find someone that believes it too.”
7 Organizations Making Strides for Equity
The Building Equity in Tech: Hispanic Heritage Month livestream provided us an opportunity to showcase some of our favorite organizations that are actively working for the success of Black and Brown people in tech.
A platform for Black and Brown people in the tech industry, created to help them share, grow, and get hired.
A diversity hiring platform that helps companies connect Black, Latinx, and Native American students and professionals to their jobs and internships.
A group of experienced venture investors focused on supporting, engaging, and connecting Latinx individuals as they find their way through the venture capital ecosystem.
With investments in 1,0000 diverse founders over a 20-year period, Harlem Capital is a venture capital firm created to diversify the entrepreneurship landscape.
A foundation with a mission to create access to community and financial capital for Black and Brown women.
An organization that focuses on enacting change for everyday people by providing a platform in which they can be heard along with investment opportunities.
An organization designed to bridge the gap between entrepreneurship and racial equity. Its goal is to help people of color, women, immigrants, LGBTQ+ groups, physically disabled people, and veterans reach their potential.
Your Future in Tech is Waiting
As we continue to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month it’s important to remember milestones and work together to create even more contributions. If you’d like to be part of the change and growth, it could be time for a tech career of your own. Kenzie Academy is here to help you lay the foundations and prepare you for the beginnings of a promising future. Apply today and get started.