Kelly Elston is a user research leader working closely with organizations to inspire better digital experiences that stem from empathy for users and are driven by data. She is an advocate for the user, as a storyteller of what is and what could be. She has worked with teams in Microsoft Games Studios, Microsoft Office, Philips Oral Health Care, and now with Providence St. Joseph Health. Her career passion is to enable technology to solve challenges for users and to make technology more accessible to underrepresented populations.
As a mom of two little ones, she loves being reminded of what it is like to think like a scientist and explore the world that surrounds us.
WHAT ABOUT IGNITE HAS INSPIRED YOU?
Everything! The women who volunteer their time, the girls who are eagerly searching for their future, and overall the idea of giving back to our local community who will be now impacting my daughter. IGNITE will be shaping the future both of my children will be living in, and hopefully that is a future where women are equal.
WHY DO YOU THINK IGNITE HAS IMPACTED THE WAY YOU THINK ABOUT A CAREER CHOICE?
I think IGNITE has impacted the way I think about a career choice because it gave me access to learn about my choices.Unlike other resources were I was limited to only reading about these careers, it gave the front seat to speak to & shadow incredible women in these careers. Their inspirational words and their sincere stories of what they did to get where they were gave me ideas of what I wanted to be. Focusing on giving girls an opportunity to see what day to day tasks were for some of these women made me feel more empowered to make a decision of what I would study in college to eventually do what some of them did.
HOW HAS IGNITE IMPACTED YOUR CHOICES ABOUT WHAT CLASSES TO TAKE? OR ABOUT SCHOOL IN GENERAL?
I remember being in my first computer class in high school that was required in order to graduate. The curriculum for the class was typing skills, basics of word & powerpoint, and internet navigation. I consumed the curriculum very quickly and my teacher, who as an incredible mentor, pulled me aside after class to help me find a class that I would find more challenging, Web Page Design. She gave me the description of the class and I fell in love with it. The next day I went to my new classroom and quickly found out I was the only female in a 24 person class. I was mortified! I never realized how important it was to me to have other classmates “like me.” The curriculum was great, I was learning a lot, I realized I really liked software, but I also realized I felt alone. My teacher learned about the program IGNITE, and soon thereafter took me on our first field trip. I met other women who in their high school times and even college times were often the only female. They nevertheless were passionate, and relentless about achieving their dreams. They inspired me to look internally for my passion, not externally. IGNITE connected me to women to help build my confidence to continue to take whatever computer class I wanted in school regardless of who were my classmates.
HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT THE IGNITE PROGRAM?
IGNITE is a program that I feel should be available to all young women around the globe. In the scope of time, it is still a young program, but the impact its making is incredible.