Chandler has a computer science degree from the University of Southern California and interned on the Xbox team twice before joining Microsoft full time in 2014. She currently works as a backend developer for the online store which was formed after the merger of several disjoint consumer stores with the goal of giving customers a simple, cohesive buying experience for both physical and digital goods.
Though originally from Texas, she has fully embraced the Pacific Northwest. When she is not at work, you are most likely to find her outside – hiking, backpacking, snowboarding, or running.
WHY DO YOU SUPPORT IGNITE?
Without the encouragement from my older brother who had already taken and enjoyed the computer science class at my high school, I would not have discovered an untapped passion for the subject that would ultimately become my college major and future profession. Looking back, I was lucky that my school even offered a CS class. My experience has nurtured a strong passion to ensure that all students can have the same exposure to the opportunities I’ve been afforded.
While at USC, I had the opportunity to teach an after-school computer science program to elementary students at a handful of schools in Los Angeles from various socioeconomic backgrounds. I was amazed at how quickly they were able to grasp concepts that I was not exposed to until the end of high school, and I was moved by my small part in helping students discover new interests and open doors.
Once I moved to Seattle, I quickly found IGNITE as a great way to continue educating and inspiring the next generation of girls to go into STEM fields. I volunteer with an incredibly inspiring group of women and I have a very supportive manager who allows me teach during work hours. Through our workshops with IGNITE, our goal is not to turn everyone into a computer scientist, but to plant a seed so that the girls we teach might sign up for that computer science camp, feel encouraged to take that advanced math class, have more confidence to raise their hand in class, or just realize that this field is open to anyone despite their background.
WHAT ABOUT IGNITE INSPIRES YOU?
Volunteering with Ignite has allowed me to grow professionally by expanding my network, and personally by giving me opportunities to lead. I started out occasionally helping with the coding workshops and felt so empowered that I am now teaching the workshops. I also help lead a team for the annual Microsoft Hackathon which is dedicated to improving the IGNITE workshops that we hold at Microsoft, as well as providing take home materials for girls, online tutorials, and creating instructional materials for teachers. In addition, IGNITE has fueled my desire to give back and I took on an additional leadership role on the Emerging Leaders board with United Way of King County.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE WITH THE WIDER COMMUNITY ABOUT IGNITE?
Most of the schools we invite to Microsoft have no computer program at their school and this is often their first exposure both to programming and the possibility that they could work at a place like Microsoft. It is so rewarding to see that “ah-ha” moment on the girls’ faces, and encouraging to see the same schools signing up to attend our workshop with a new set of students each semester.