Britney Aiken, recent information technology grad, comes from a family where everyone works in healthcare.
Although she thought about following suit, Aiken knew she wanted a different path. She says she loved math in high school and wanted to do something in the field of engineering once she reached college. Her mom picked up on her daughter’s tech abilities early on, and Aiken attended Academies of Loudon, a STEM program for high school students in Loudon County, Va.
“As far as I can remember, I was always drawn to technology,” says Aiken. “I chose to pursue information technology in higher education because I wanted a well-rounded perspective. Computer science is a popular way to go, but IT covers everything- cloud computing, cybersecurity, computer networking, web development, programing, and more.”
Aiken says joining the Break Through Tech (BTT) program at George Mason allowed her to be surrounded by like -minded people who are just as intrigued and interested in engineering as she is.
“As a BTT student peer leader and a Mason ambassador, people ask me about the difficulty level of engineering, is it too hard to do,” says Aiken. “The best thing to set yourself up for success is to join a community like BTT and talk with professors and advisors. Don’t be afraid to put your brand out there early.”
Setting a good example for future STEM grads is a motivating factor for Aiken, who will be working at Amazon full time after interning for the tech magnate last summer in Denver. She’s excited to be part of a change that will hopefully encourage more women into STEM careers.
“I took an engineering class in high school and I was the only girl,” says Aiken. “I want more women to join this field. There is nothing we can’t achieve.”
She may have broken the mold for one of her sisters, who might join sibling rank by also pursuing STEM.
“I feel like I’m definitely more aware now that other people are watching me, not in a bad way but it makes me want to set a good example in the way I interact with people and face challenges, whether it’s related to engineering or just life,” says Aiken. “I just want to set a good example for my sisters, and other students around me.”
About Break Through Tech
BTT works at the intersection of academia and industry to propel more women and underrepresented communities into technology degrees and careers. BTT DC is the first cross-institutional collaboration, partnering with Mason and the University of Maryland.