My journey into computer science started in New York during the 5th grade when I was introduced to the fantasy video game “Kingdom Hearts.” I was absolutely hooked, and a few days later, I decided I wanted to create my own video game. With the help of my homeschool mom (Ayanna Murray), I started Khan Academy and Codecademy’s programming courses. In addition, I started teaching myself how to build a 3D game using Unity.
That year coding opportunities started popping up everywhere! I (usually the youngest attendee) was later involved in several hackathons and science-related meetings. Some of these were held by “Black Girls Code,” "Code Day," “All-Star Code,” "The Code Space," and even a Hip-Hop hackathon hosted at the Spotify headquarters in New York City.
With continual exposure, my passion for computer science continued to grow, and I wanted to share my new interest with friends. At 11 years old, I led an after-school technology club in my dining room, where I facilitated MIT Scratch coding classes with 10 other kids. Soon after, I was able to travel up to Massachusetts from New York to meet the MIT Scratch team. Walking through the MIT media lab was an unforgettable experience. The founder of Scratch and his team heavily encouraged me to keep pursuing my newfound passion.
In 2017-18, I was awarded a scholarship to become a Front-End Web Developer through the Udacity Nanodegree program. I advanced quickly and successfully through the curriculum and learned the skills needed for a great future in technology.
In addition, I served as a leader on the Rockin’ Robots Robotics team for two consecutive years. They competed at the New York Robocup Jr. USA soccer competition and placed second each year.
My reputation grew as a “computer geek,” and over the summer of 2018, I was asked to partner with the CEO of Sherohub (a non-profit organization) to help build and provide artwork for a video game. The game aims to help educate and prevent domestic violence in relationships for women and girls. Currently, the game has been translated into Creole; the native language of Haiti, and has been brought over to Haiti for testing. I continued working with them till 2021, as the game reached Haiti, South Africa, and America.
During 2018-19, I stayed busy developing my skills during my freshman year of high school and completed the Udacity Nanodegree program called Virtual Reality Developer. It was a wonderful learning opportunity from industry experts like Google and Unity.
In August of 2019, I moved to Memphis, TN, and jumped into the tech scene right away by committing to volunteer every Tuesday and Thursday (3 hrs/week) with CodeCrew in partnership with St. Jude Hospital to work with their fund development team (ALSAC) to create an app using artificial intelligence that will help the children at the hospital.
In addition to acing my Intro to Java course with Grand Canyon University, I also joined the “Memphis Mech Warriors” Robotics Team. January 2020 was the kick-off of their extremely busy robot-building season as the team prepared for the 2020 First Robotics Competitions.
That fall, I experienced my greatest technology accomplishment by building an app called “Safety U” using MIT App Inventor in collaboration with my sister Anaya. The game’s purpose is to help educate first-year female college students on how to navigate campus life while staying safe from sexual assault. As a result, they won the Congressional App Award for District 9 and earned an honorable mention for the Scholastics Art and Writing Awards.
Needless to say, I was busy in my new home of Memphis, and as a 2019 NCWIT AspireIT leader, I planned to share my love of technology by instructing over 30 girls in a spring App Hackathon funded by NCWIT. Sadly, the Covid Pandemic hit the world, and the event had to be postponed to fall 2020. Not deterred, I was overwhelmed with joy when I was selected as an NCWIT 2020 local and national winner.
Allowing the national win to launch me, I didn't let the pandemic slow me down, and during the summer, I, along with my sister (and a friend), won a summer hackathon by developing an app using MIT App Inventor. The "Walk in My Shoes" app took on a social justice theme of police brutality.
Once fall began, I once again signed up to volunteer with St. Jude Hospital, where I spent over 100 hours building a video game in Unity to help the hospital raise money for children and families in need. In addition, I re-planned a virtual Girl's Game Jam for November 2020, teaching girls how to build games with social impact.
In the summer of 2021, I had the privilege of working with Games For Change and TedEd as a student speaker in their collaboration with the Raising Good Gamers program. In addition, Games For Change allowed me to speak on two panels during the Y4Y (Youth 4 Youth) iSummit discussing the present and future of online interactions and how societies can better utilize them in ethical and holistic manners. A month later, as a student guest, I spoke on another panel for the IMPT: Connected Learning Summit.
For the rest of the year I worked hard on applying to 17 universities in order to pursue a degree in either Game Design or Game Development. Every school drastically differs in how much they emphasize the arts or programming, so it was difficult to make my final choice out of the 15 I was accepted into.
In the spring, I received scholarships from the Ron Brown Scholar Foundation, Amazon Future Engineer program, Generation Google Scholarship for Women in Gaming, and Park Scholarship from North Carolina State University (NCSU), all allowing me to pursue my passion for tech and the arts without having to worry about debt as a student. With these wonderful gifts in mind, my decision came down to RIT and NCSU. In April 2022, I had a great discussion with Dr. Derek Ham (director of NCSU's Art and Design department) about my choices and soon decided to commit to NC State as a proud member of the WolfPack!
I've had such an intriguing journey so far at NC State as a freshman, working on developing my own rhythm in school, spiritual life, and career. But in my free time, I have been working on mixing an album and, during school, working on my freshman engineering design project called "AstroMath" with a team of amazing human beings: Michael Blunt, Nathan Auman, and Jamya Tolson.
My current path and plan are to graduate from NCSU with a Bachelor's in Computer Science (Game Development concentration) with two minors: Art & Design and Japanese. After graduation, I would like to pursue a Master's degree in Integrated Design & Management (potentially at MIT), then work for AAA, AA, and Indie game studios for 5 years.
My ultimate goal is to create a game studio working between the United States and Japan creating games that have a social impact. In particular, I would love to develop a team around ShyBoy, a video game that will help address teen mental health issues, help users understand how to establish and fulfill emotional boundaries, and help lower the depression and suicide rates in my generation.