Follow your gut, stay the course


30 years ago I graduated from high school and was trying to decide what to study in college. Designing buildings was very appealing to me. Studying architecture looked like a good option. As I was trying to make a decision, my close group of high school friends convinced me to join them and study Computer Programming.


Marta and her close highschool friends taken in Ponce, Puerto Rico
Marta and her close highschool friends taken in Ponce, Puerto Rico

"Computer Programming?!! What could you possibly do with computers!?" asked my mom, alarmed. I shrugged my shoulders and went on to study Computer Programming at the University of Puerto Rico. It was during my two years there that I learned about the wonderful technologies of the time; Punch Cards, Fortran and Cobol. I realized that this was the correct path for me and got excited about the future.


Two years later a friend convinced me to follow her to Florida State University to finish our Bachelor's degree in Computer Science. "Florida State?!" asked my mom, again alarmed. I shrugged my shoulders and went on to study Computer Science, or did I? In the third semester at FSU, I discovered that I really did not know English as well as I thought. I could read and write beautiful English but I would not understand my professors too well. So between the efforts to understand Discreet Math, Physics and Calculus and the efforts to understand what the professors were actually saying, I began to fail.


I decided to switch majors and study something that would be easier to understand. I picked Geographic Information Systems. "Geography?!!" asked my mom, alarmed. I shrugged my shoulders and went on to study GIS. I convinced myself that I was still studying technology. My grades improved and I loved making maps and learning about places, people and societies of the world, but something was missing. It was not technology.


At that time I had a part-time job sorting letters at the FSU post office, on campus. I noticed that every time a student came to do a transaction we had to look up the student information in an index card inside a small box. "Wait, what?!!" I asked. I proposed to my boss if he would let me write a program to provide a better experience to the students and to organize the data in a database. "A program?!! he asked, uncertain. He shrugged his shoulders and I went on to design a database and write a program to provide search, add, edit and reporting capabilities to the FSU Post office. It was there that I was able to find my passion for technology. I saw a problem and was able to provide a solution with technology. It was my beginning in the field of Software Engineering and a long and interesting path to where I am now. I learned to follow my gut and continue to find passion and reinvent myself when the time is right by learning new technologies and staying the course.

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