#StudentSpotlight: Tania Pagan-Rosario

August 22, 2017

 "My name is Tania Pagan-Rosario and I am a 39 year old mom, wife, and elementary teacher. I am also currently a student learning to code. I have always had a love of learning and I am currently applying that love to learning coding.  Specifically, I am learning Python along with HTML, CSS, SQL and the libraries that are often used. I am blessed to have unending support in my programmer husband who has long voiced his opinion that I would love learning to code. I am also a mom to two beautiful little boys, ages one and four, who make my life complete. These two little guys have given me the courage to jump headfirst into learning a new skill and carve a path to a new career. 

 

With over 14 years in education in both for profit and public school settings, I have worked with countless children to help them gain confidence and develop academic skills. It’s been a thrilling journey to work with children and it’s one I hope to continue in the future with the addition of my new skill set.  Having worked mostly in lower income neighborhoods, I have often been struck by how much student’s career goals are often created or limited by the experiences that surround them. It’s hard for children to imagine themselves in a career when they don’t personally know someone in the field. We teach children to set goals, but a personal connection to these goals is often lacking. One of the main reasons I’m interested in coding now is because I didn’t know anyone as a little girl who worked with computers in any capacity, certainly not women at the time. I was always intrigued by computers, but I hardly had any exposure to them in childhood. Looking back, I realize that I might have chosen a different path altogether if I had known someone or had more exposure to computers and programming. I want to be part of the movement that brings this connection to children of all backgrounds and incomes. I want to help create more opportunities for our children’s future. 

 

I have only just begun in my journey with coding. I’ve had no prior formal education in Computer Science. I took two basic courses in college almost 20 years ago and realized then that I would have enjoyed learning more about computers.  Ironically, I became interested in programming languages about 11 years ago when I learned to manipulate the appearance of my MySpace page. I thought about learning more for a long time and decided to go for it this year after seeing the growing support for beginners in the field. 

 

I am currently teaching myself on Codecademy.com, Lynda.com, and have signed up for General Assembly events and Meetups that are geared towards beginners. I’ve also signed up for a part-time Python course at Byte Academy in New York City. Deciding that immersion would be the best way, I have sought out and signed up for as many social media sites and organizations that provide helpful information to beginners, women, and minorities. In the past few months since I began this, I have found that support for career changers has continued to grow  immensely and it has become an affirmation to my goals that I am on the right path. The one area that I have found lacking is support for the unique demographic that moms make up in the learning pool. As a mother, currently caring for her two boys while taking time off from work, it is a challenge to find study time, child care help, and financial support. I am blessed to have help in my husband, mother, and in laws, but it is lonely to find that I am often the oldest one in the room, or the one with the least free time, or that I can’t join a meet up because it requires interrupting my children’s bedtime routine. 

 

Learning to code has been thrilling so far. I have been frustrated, confused, ecstatic, and encouraged. It’s been a rollercoaster already, but I’m only more intrigued with every new challenge. When I learn to write a new piece of code, I’m filled with satisfaction. The little girl nerd in me does a happy dance. When I am stuck, I worry that I’m not going to cut it in this career.  Then I figure something out, and the dance is on again. Coding is feeding my mind and soul because I’m learning that I’m capable of more. It’s also giving me a fresh breath of life knowing that eventually I can add to the ways I work with children. I know it’s going to be challenging and that it will take continuous dedication to learning, but I’m hopeful that I’ll find a supportive, nurturing workplace environment that will help me learn, grow, and contribute. I’m excited by the possibilities and eager to learn more.

 

When I first saw MomsCan:Code launching, my heart lit up with joy. I am eager and excited to connect with other moms who might be on a similar path. Moms, like me, who might be learning coding from scratch.  Moms that can connect with the struggles of finding time in a day when a child misses a nap, or is teething, or has Coxsackie. Moms who can understand the fortitude it takes to find time to study and work between broken moments in the day or late at night. Moms who can understand how frightening it is to take a chance like this. Moms who are driven to be a better version of themselves and learn something that could make a positive impact on their families for their families."

 

- Tania Pagan-Rosario

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