Thoughts of a Chicana Feminist

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Two computer science programs at Mills College aim to build second-career confidence

I was recently interviewed for an article published by the San Francisco Bay Guardian. The article is on Mills College's Interdisciplinary Computer Science program. Honestly, it is the only program of its kind that I could find back in 2000, and I haven't found anything similar since then.

Back in late 1990's I seriously thought about going to law school even though I was finding more and more interest in computing. At the time it seemed like an unreasonable leap of faith that I would be able to study computing. With a degree on in the social sciences and my work experience focused on people, not machines, my choices were slim.

After deciding that I didn't want to get a JD, I figured I had two basic choices:

  1. I could go to ITT Tech, Devry or some other vocational school

  2. Or, I could try taking classes at the local community colleges until I had learned enough to convince someone to let me get a shot at a second undergraduate degree - this time in CS - or in a graduate program

The benefit of doing a vocational program was in 9 months I could be 'done'. The down side was I knew I'd learn how to use a bunch of programs, but I wouldn't learn the science. Plus the income potential from vocational learning is not as great.

The benefit of the community college strategy was the cost is low (per unit its really affordable and you can deduct it off your taxes) and I could create an appropriate pace (one class here and there) since I still had to work to keep a roof over my head. The problem is it would take a MILLION years (ok, it was really only 5 or 6) to learn enough to make myself desirable to a traditional program.

I literally jumped up and down and celebrated when I found the program at Mills. I could get in my demonstrating I am an intelligent person interested in technology. I could learn the science and it wouldn't take me 5 or more years to get to where I wanted to go.

My point - If you are a woman that enjoys technology and want a more direct path to making a transition into it, Mills is the place for you.

And in case you are interested, I have my master's thesis posted. It will give you an idea of how I applied my new found knowledge to all that I had learned before going to Mills.

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