Shifting gears

love of technology leads to recognition


Photo by Alyssa Kift

Junior Macheala McAdams is pursuing a career in computer science and mathematics. She is passionate about technology and wants to encourage other young women to chase their ambitions.

Story by Langley Leverett, feature editor

She stares at the screen, fingers flying over the keyboard. Designs and ideas whirl around inside her head as she thinks of her future and what it might entail. A woman in the STEM field is a rarity, but she overlooks this notion with ease.

Junior Macheala McAdams was recognized throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth region as an outstanding female student in technology, and she was simultaneously the only student outside of the DFW metro area that was recognized for this honor.

“I am an honorable mention for the 2016 year for the National Center of Women in Information Technology,” McAdams said. “That is a national organization that is nonprofit and it brings women together who are interested in a STEM field. They pretty much get us all together and we have collaborations and everything. I wasn’t recognized nationally, but I was recognized for the DFW area, which is a really big region. So to even be recognized as an honorable mention is a pretty big deal.”

Despite earlier childhood aspirations, McAdams goals for the future soon began to morph into something larger.

“[I’m interested in] computer science and mathematics. My mom was always into computers, and she was like ‘you should go into computers, you’re really good at it,’” McAdams said. “But in middle school, I was like ‘no, no, no. I like to draw.’ I wanted to be an animator. She was really supportive about it, but then I ended up taking computer science as an elective, just to get my language credit, and I ended up really liking it. So then I switched gears.”

She began her official start at a summer camp in 2016, which eventually led her to applying for The National Center for Women and Information Technology, an organization committed to helping young girls and women pursue a job in science and industry.

“I went to First Bytes, which is basically a big summer camp at UT Austin, and you go and you meet all these girls, juniors and seniors who are around your age, who are also interested in mathematics and STEM. It’s really selective, but they pay for everything. You just have to go through an interview process online and whatnot,” McAdams said. “When I got there, it was me and actually Karissa Smith, we were the only two people from Texas High. So I get down there to Austin and I had this roommate. When I went to camp, this girl was like ‘I’m apart of this group, NCWIT, and you are more into this than I am, and if I got in for graphic design, then you should totally do it. I was like ‘okay,’ and so whenever applications came around, I entered it.”

McAdams deviates from the disheartenment that comes from the lack of women in the STEM field and continues to go after her goals.

“Despite the fact that TISD does push for STEM, I don’t really see a lot of push to get into fields of stem, it’s more like ‘enter the STEM program for all these perks’” McAdams said. “So I got into it late in the game, I guess you could say, because a lot of the girls in NCWIT were introduced to it freshman year of high school. I think I’m doing pretty good; I’ve caught up a little bit, in terms of what I’m reaching and going for.”

Throughout her experience, she’s realized that when doors close, others open. She loves being apart of NCWIT, and is excited about the opportunities available.

“I’ve definitely learned there’s a lot more opportunities than what meets the eye. Because there’s not really much internships here, but NCWIT puts you through those,” McAdams said. “They help you match you up to scholarships and potential jobs, and if you want to get an outreach program they help you with that too.”

Unsure of her college destination, she is still confident of what path she wishes to follow.

“I’m really don’t know yet, I’m undecided. But I do know my major. I would like to go do computer software and engineering. [My Parents] are probably the biggest ones that push me forward,” McAdams said. “I want to get the word out more, we’d definitely love more people and more STEM, and a push toward women.”

Dismissing the ideas of impossibility, she yearns to keep shifting and moving forward, until she is satisfied with her achievements. McAdams refuses to be intimidated and instead is choosing to remain motivated.

“[I realized this] early on in middle school, when you really start to shape,” McAdams said. “Don’t be discouraged honestly, like I’m not a big math person or anything, but you don’t need to be discouraged about anything. Don’t let anyone tell you ‘you can’t do anything,’ because that was a big thing for me.”