Speak up for yourself
Each summer, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the Institute of Diversity Sciences welcomes students to the Leadership Academy, an online professional development program. The program is a way to gain confidence, build skills and make valuable connections. These yearly cohorts of underrepresented students develop skills to become ‘change agents’ within their communities and beyond.
Amanda Wigley worked hard in school and received partial scholarships at both University of Tampa and Western Governors University undergrad programs. "I have a bachelor's degree in marketing, and I worked as a recruiting coordinator. But then my family grew and I lost my job, so I had to find something new. I didn't think of myself as someone in IT, but when I researched it, I realized that there were many areas within it that interested me.", she told us. "I do sometimes have that tendency to hesitate and think, maybe I’m not good enough. Or I have the idea that I should let my work speak for itself. But going through the Leadership Academy and hearing all of the speakers and their experiences, you have to be able to speak up for yourself— I’ve come to realize we, as individuals, me specifically, need to be able to know what my value is, and also advocate for that. As I’m looking for jobs now, I’m able to keep that in mind and try to focus on the real goal.”, Amanda told us.
Like many other Leadership Academy students, Amanda's story and personal experiences have shown that education and a college degree are often not enough. Amanda made a key decision to overcome her life challenge and pursue a STEM career. This allowed her to see her true value but also to make a difference and help her family, as well as her community.