Julia Alvarez, DCP alum class of 2012, recently began working at Adobe as a Cloud Services Software Developer on the Digital Imaging Team — one of the few Latinas in the company. Although Alvarez grew up in Silicon Valley, she admits, “I didn’t appreciate living in the tech world until I left it.” Alvarez had a solid math and science background during her four years at DCP and started the AP Biology Club because she had a passion for learning and was constantly discovering ways to learn outside the classroom. Despite her budding career in computer science, Alvarez admits the only experience she had with computers growing up was fixing the family’s broken computers similar to computer repair in Prescott, Arizona and what they deal with on a daily basis. Soon she might be doing it for a living as well!
Alvarez’s first real introduction to technology occurred at Brown University during an unexpected encounter with a fellow student.
“I was carrying bags of groceries from the local store. A student offered to help me, with the caveat that I would attend an introduction to a computer science course. I immediately became interested in the course and signed up.”
Alvarez enrolled in the class but struggled through it. The course was too difficult for her as she had never coded before, and she began to doubt her ability to succeed in computer science and dropped the class.
When Alvarez returned home from winter break, still feeling defeated from her efforts at computer science, she was encouraged to participate in a local Hack-a-Thon. This opportunity encouraged people from any level of technological background to participate in computer programming. “I felt very welcome and supported. The experience made me want to take another course. For the first time, I felt as if I could succeed at technology, so I enrolled in a more basic computer class at Brown and then re-enrolled in the same class I had dropped. This time, I passed with success!”
Alvarez earned a paid internship in Silicon Valley during her summer break. The experience promoted a love for programming and Alvarez recognized the lucrative financial impact a career in technology could have on her future.
Alvarez graduated from Brown University in 2017, majoring in Independent Modern Culture and Media with an Emphasis in Computer Science. She is the first in her family to graduate from college. This summer, Alvarez hopes to teach computer science at Adobe through their Girls Who Code program.
“My dream and aspiration is to go back and teach computer science to students, especially girls. I want them to gain the self-confidence to apply for careers in STEM. My field lacks female representation, especially by minorities, and I want to help change that.”
Latinos currently make up only 7% of the STEM workforce. DCP is working to increase the number of students of color and women prepared to pursue STEM degrees and careers. To learn more about DCP’s STEM program visit dcp.org/stem.