Amazon Skills Center Field Trip with Rainier Beach, Talley, and Quincy High Schools

On May 9, 2023, Amazon Web Services (AWS) hosted students from Rainier Beach High School, Albert Talley High School, and Quincy High School for an IGNITE Field Trip at the AWS Skills Center in Seattle!

The Skills Center offers a hands-on exploration into some exciting ways they utilize cloud technology at AWS, Amazon’s cloud service. To begin, students met Maria Petrova, the AWS Skills Center Seattle Lead, Bianca Richman, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Business Partner, and Jerrell Tate, AWS Technical Instructor, who provided an introduction to the cloud. They talked about the wide range of ways the cloud is being used to help people all around the world and all the exciting careers available in the field. Students got to test their introductory knowledge with a trivia game, where some won t-shirts

Next, it was time to explore the Cloud Discovery Space, packed with exhibits like video game stations, robotics, machine learning, smart home, and a giant interactive globe! Everyone had a blast playing with the amazing technology. While they were having fun, they also learned about the massive applications of data—everything from setting temperature preferences in your home to tracking turtle migration around the world! 

After the exploration time, everyone enjoyed a delicious lunch while hearing from a panel of AWS STEM professionals: 

Neelam Koshiya, Principal Solutions Architect, grew up as a middle child with two sisters and constantly struggled with what she wanted to do in life, but she knew she wanted to make good money and have a great career. Not a very social person, Neelam found solace in books and has always loved math because of its binary nature; it was never subjective. That love led her to study engineering, focusing on electronics and telecommunication. Her path shifted when she got a job offer to be a software engineer for a leading IT consulting firm, and she has never looked back!

Brenda Rios is a Software Developer Manager. When she was young and expressed to her parents the idea of becoming an engineer, they tried to discourage her, saying that she should study something more “easy” or “woman-friendly.” But she decided to follow her instincts and preferences and is proud to be a Software Engineer!

As a Data Scientist, Sara Amin tries to understand what people like or don’t like and create products they will enjoy. She originally wanted to be a doctor or a teacher. Computers were just coming to life, and she remembers playing video games on a very slow dial-up connection. In high school, Sara got interested in the potential of computers because she wanted to make a computer solve math problems for her! Her dad, an engineer, was opposed to the idea of a new field, but she stuck to her path in pursuing computer science and said it has shaped her life in so many ways—even down to organizing the fridge in the most efficient way!

Bianca Richman, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Business Partner, had a difficult childhood and encountered challenges as a Latina trying to navigate the education system and working in different industries. She had to learn to be self-sufficient, worked very hard, and put herself out there to meet new people, leading to her dream job at Amazon. Bianca stressed that anyone can transform their pain and sorrow into courage, power, strength, and love to inspire and heal themselves and others.

The panelists had very diverse backgrounds and experiences and were all interesting and relatable. Students asked questions about their roles, their journey to Amazon, and how to overcome challenges, including:

  • Is your salary the reason you are in this career? 
  • Did you like group projects in school (in response to the comment that Amazon jobs often require working with several people)? 
  • Do you struggle with time management?

When asked about time management, the speakers recommended doing the highest priority items first and learning from upper management how to schedule your time. One panelist shared: “I didn’t like group projects because I was always the one to coordinate everything. Later on, I realized that I am a leader and a group organizer, so I embraced it.” Panelists also emphasized the importance of being true to your authentic self and that challenges are part of the journey to success. 

After the panel of professionals, a few students volunteered to form their own panel and share what they learned throughout the day! 

Everyone had a fantastic experience thanks to the incredible team at the AWS Skills Center: Maria Petrova, Bianca Richman, Jerrell Tate, Neelam Koshiya, Brenda Rios, Sara Amin, Azana Nunes, and Matt Perkins. Thank you also to the students and educators, with a special shout out to Quincy High School for coming all the way from central Washington for their first-ever IGNITE Field Trip!

After attending this event:


of students are interested in STEM

Take STEM Class


of students know more about STEM career choices and the benefits of working in a STEM field

Ask Teacher about Additional STEM Activities


of students feel more confident in pursuing STEM


of students gained perspective and feel more hopeful about the future

Here’s what the students thought of the event:

Today’s event inspired me to pursue my dream career and be motivated to keep going through the hardships along the way. I felt empowered during the presentation! Thank you! I thank the volunteers for giving good advice. It got me motivated and excited to pursue a career in STEM.” – 11th grade

This event inspired me by showing the amazing and limitless roles there are in just one company. It’s great to know that careers can be changed. My big takeaways were the Alexa part during the scavenger hunt, and how robots help make life easier. My second takeaway was don’t take small things too seriously.” – 9th grade

Today inspired me by helping me understand STEM. I learned that not everything goes to plan and there are many different types of STEM.” – 9th grade

“This event was really inspirational! The volunteers advised us that if we don’t know what our major is yet, then just pick up a habit and practice it over and over again until we become better at it.” – 10th grade

“This event was really good and I’m really really glad that we have women doing coding stuff.” – 9th grade

I feel happy after having this experience and I liked seeing how people work at AWS and talk about future and succes.” – 11th grade

“Today inspired me to join the program that they are going to be holding. First of all, I would like to thank everyone that shared what they’ve been going through before they joined the Amazon work, and the stories that they shared inspired me.” – 10th grade

“The people working in STEM seemed to enjoy it, so maybe STEM jobs are fun. Thank you for educating us!” – 11th grade

“Today’s event inspired me to do better and made me think I can find a job I really like in STEM. My big takeaway from today was the workers and seeing how happy they are doing their jobs.” – 12th grade

“I now know that Amazon offers a lot of job opportunities. Knowledge is your biggest tool!” – 12th grade

I loved that everyone was so honest and open with me, and the kindness was very welcoming. It reminded me to work hard, be consistent, and be confident in myself.” – 10th grade

“It inspired me to do what I want and to pursue my dreams. I thank everyone who organized today’s event and took time to give us the information we need.” – 10th grade

Seeing women in these jobs inspired me. It taught me to never feel discouraged about what someone tells you.” – 9th grade

“The way that today has inspired me is by teaching me to be confident in my career choice, as well as inspiring me to do something I enjoy doing. My big takeaway was knowing that there are many opportunities in the technical field.” – 11th grade

“It inspired me to work harder and do the best I can in my future. I feel more informed on what it is like to be a woman in STEM. I want to thank our teacher for bringing us here and the women who came here.” – 12th grade

I feel more sure about exploring the careers available to me. I learned that there isn’t a deadline to what I want to pursue. Explore your options, don’t be afraid to learn about other jobs, don’t let what others think hold you back!” – 11th grade

“Everyone was very casual and made STEM sound fun. I envisioned this career totally different, but they eased my thoughts. Everyone answered questions thoroughly and the whole IGNITE event was fun and interesting!” – 10th grade

This event taught me that STEM leads to branches of many types of work, and can lead you to have more opportunities within careers.” – 11th grade

Today’s event made me think about the possible pathways I can pursue. My biggest takeaway was how cool this place was.” – 9th grade

I was able to learn new things, which helped me feel more engaged in STEM. STEM is a very diverse career course.” – 10th grade