What nation/clan/tribal town/etc. are you from?
Navajo Nation (Diné), Iyanbito, NM (tribal community), and Bitterwater born for Towering House (my clans).
How did you get into development?
I’ve always had a keen interest in technology growing up. My first computer OS was Windows 95, PC games were an attainment (because of high performance specs). I had a few PC games; I admired the graphics and functions of the games. I was a curious 6-year-old pondering how software worked. I grew up wondering and doing research. As I got older, I would look into source codes and see the schematics of programming. Since then, my inner 6 year old self is finally receiving the answers. My next step is to expand my knowledge on software and web development.
What projects are you working on now?
I’m currently involved in a Navajo astrology web app development project. The concept of this app is to tell an AR virtual story of the Navajo constellations. My team and I want to put a modern twist on telling ancient stories. Technology is advancing, why not teach the youth through a portable device. This app will give an abundant visual learning experience. We’re currently working alongside NASA, hoping to have this app done in the next year.
What is it like being a Native in tech?
It’s great, the community is small but growing. We’re slowly getting more native tech recognition. Native advocacy didn’t exist when I was growing up. We’re slowly receiving recognition; I’m anticipating that will change in a few years. I enjoy encouraging Native Students with the work I’m doing. I hope to use my experience to influence younger Native American students to pursue the world of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). I want to show them that those who desire can be a developer, coder, computer scientist, or whatever they want to be. I want them to know they are the future generation of STEM. Different companies offer many career opportunities; there is a career for everyone. I want to assure them that their dreams can become a reality.
What has been your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishments would be getting an internship with NASA. I never thought I would accomplish a goal that was a minor idea. My internship at Johnson Space Center has allowed me to see some of NASA’s intricacies and various projects being worked. It has allowed me to see another perspective of the type of career that I may want to pursue after I graduate from the Navajo Technical University. Working with many engineers has given me a peek into what goes into developing hardware for spacesuits. I was blessed with such an opportunity; I want to pursue a future career at NASA. It was a challenging journey, but I withstood every obstruction that came my way.
What would you like to see happen for tribal Nations throughout the US?
More Native recognition! We’re all overlooked and unobserved. We’re all striving for an improved future and uplifting future generation.
How do you give back to your community?
The knowledge I obtain, I share it. Technical skills and practices do help the community in different ways.
In what ways can Natives in tech do more for their community?
Promote more and expand the community.
What would you tell younger Natives that want to get involved in engineering/development?
I would tell them, “Don’t let minor things discourage you. If you’re in a tough situation, remember it’s only temporary. You can make the changes, you’re in control. You’re the future generation of STEM, own it.”
What are your future plans?
My recent NASA internship exposed many opportunities. I found my passion for cybersecurity within their IT department. Also, STEM outreach with programming software for various NASA missions and projects. I’m planning to work within NASA and bring my knowledge back to the Navajo Reservation. I believe, once we leave home, we acquire life experiences and professional skills. Once we come back, we distribute knowledge and practices. My main goal is to provide cybersecurity applications and software improvement for our tribal offices.
What is the best way to reach out to you?
Any other things you would like to share?
I’m available to mentor any student that is seeking guidance.