Megan Olsen
Senior Engineering Program Manager at Microsoft

WHY YOU ARE INVOLVED WITH IGNITE?

I had a very tough road becoming the woman I am today and it took me a long time to share my story and become completely transparent about my failures throughout life; but, my hope is that others can learn from my failures and more importantly how to push through and have the tools to build character in the valleys and enjoy the successes of life in the peaks. Girls in Middle School and High School are going through a variety of challenges from school, friends, parents, social media, etc that can consume them and leave them feeling hopeless.  I want them to know that it’s ok to have those feeling but more importantly to arm them with tools that they can use to help dig themselves out of the feeling of anxiety, hopelessness or anger that they might hold onto.  I know I can’t reach every girl but if I can plant the seed of hope, then I’m ok with that.  Sometimes hope takes longer to cultivate in some than in others but it’s always possible. I think IGNITE opens the door for opportunities that these girls didn’t even know existed.  It provides a platform to expose them to technology and how so many people have different stories of how they got there.  IGNITE provides a window into what they can achieve and a door to walk through if they want to go after it.

DESCRIBE A TIME IGNITE INSPIRED YOU

The first time I sat on a panel and listened to the stories of some of the other women, I saw sparks in the eyes of some of the girls and that was priceless.  There is nothing more rewarding than knowing you could be influencing the next generation of leaders, thinkers, learners, innovators of our near future.  That first panel hooked me and I’ve never looked back.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE OUR WIDER COMMUNITY TO KNOW ABOUT IGNITE?

I’m so inspired by the leaders of IGNITE who are genuinely dedicated to making the world a safe place for girls to understand the STEM opportunities.  It creates a place to have open conversations about how they fit into a place that they might not know that much about.  And for those that are comfortable in the STEM space already, it builds a forum of support and encouragement for them to go after their dreams and break through barriers.  I suspect IGNITE is building character and leadership qualities that will enable many more ‘firsts’ for the female population like the women leaders before us.

 

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