March 5, 2024

Atlas Achievers: Spotlight on Tech-Savvy Moms

Atlas Achievers: Spotlight on Tech-Savvy Moms

A dedicated spotlight celebrating the exceptional accomplishments of our students, providing a platform to showcase the remarkable work and achievements within the Atlas School community.

Last Saturday, we opened up Women’s History Month with a Brunch and Learn discussion. We’re highlighting Computer Science and Full-Stack Web Development students Crystal Tipton-Carillo and Nikki Alderman, who both participated in a panel sharing their insights into the intersection of motherhood, education, and the technology industry in Tulsa. We caught up with both after the event to learn more about their experiences as Atlas students.

Can you share a bit about your journey to Atlas? What made you want to pursue a career in tech?

Crystal: My journey to Atlas School began with a realization of the transformative power of technology in our rapidly evolving world. After spending years in healthcare and witnessing the impact of technology in that field, I became inspired to explore a career in tech. The prospect of being part of an industry that offers flexibility and continuous learning opportunities while still providing for my family was incredibly appealing. In 2023, this led me to embark on the path of software development through Atlas School’s Computer Science & Full Stack Web Development program.

Nikki: Right out of high school, Class of 2005, I originally enrolled in school for computer science but then got a job in the medical field and switched my major to applied science. I am a licensed medical assistant and phlebotomist, which was my career when the pandemic hit. That's when I stayed home with the kids and rediscovered my passion for computer science. Also, the need to be available for my kids, my parents, and my family when they need me played a big role. I help care for my parents when they need me as well. The flexibility that a career in tech offers is huge for allowing me to be the best I can be in my roles as a mother, daughter, and provider.

How do you manage the balance between your responsibilities as a mother and your studies/projects at Atlas School?

Crystal: Balancing my responsibilities as a mother and studies at Atlas School requires careful planning, effective communication, and flexibility. I prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance, ensuring dedicated time for both family and education. Utilizing digital calendars, including separate ones for personal, school/work, grandmother appointments, family, and volunteering, helps me coordinate schedules efficiently. Teaching my older children to schedule their extracurricular events fosters communication and collaboration within the family. Additionally, I streamline household tasks by ordering groceries with pickups, engaging in meal planning, and involving the family in creating grocery lists and meal prep activities. Establishing a structured routine, complete with a chore chart, further supports our household organization. Overall, maintaining this level of organization allows me to balance my roles effectively and ensures that both my family and academic responsibilities receive the attention they deserve.

Nikki: At my home desk, I maintain two whiteboards. One is dedicated to "The Eisenhower Matrix," where I prioritize all my projects and responsibilities. The second whiteboard serves as a calendar for my children's, parents', and family's appointments and activities for the month. Additionally, I emphasize flexibility and adaptability in my approach, as each day brings its own set of new challenges and tasks.

Are there any strategies or tips you've found useful in maintaining your motivation and focus while balancing your roles as a mother and a student?

Crystal: To stay motivated and focused while balancing motherhood and student life, I remind myself of the reasons behind my decision to pursue this path. The long-term benefits of my education and the positive impact it will have on my family's future serve as a constant source of motivation. Setting small, achievable goals, celebrating milestones, and seeking support from peers and mentors have proven to be invaluable in maintaining focus and momentum. Additionally, prioritizing self-care, practicing mindfulness, and taking breaks when needed have been instrumental in preventing burnout and ensuring a healthy balance between my various roles.

One quote I live by is, "Without commitment you'll never start, but more importantly, without consistency, you'll never finish!" - Denzel Washington. This quote encapsulates my approach perfectly. Even on the hard days, I prioritize showing up for myself and my family. Consistency is the key to success, and I strive to maintain it in all aspects of my life.

Can you share a personal achievement or milestone in your tech journey that you're particularly proud of?

Crystal: One personal achievement in my tech journey that I'm particularly proud of is embracing the opportunity to get involved in the local tech community through volunteering. Transitioning careers and committing to a rigorous program like Atlas School was a significant step, especially while balancing parenting responsibilities. However, tackling imposter syndrome head-on during this career transition and actively seeking ways to engage with the tech community, both within and outside of school, has been incredibly rewarding. I'm proud of my perseverance in pushing forward toward a brighter future, maintaining a positive mindset, and embracing a growth-oriented approach.

I would say participating in the Hack Sprint was a significant milestone for me. It was a 5-day sprint aimed at creating a minimal viable product with the theme "clouds". Alongside two classmates, we developed a website called Global Sky Mosaic, which utilized a weather API to track the weather of various campuses around the world. We aimed to connect our skies across multiple software-engineering campuses. Managing tasks, collaborating effectively, and bringing together our skills to create our first functional website from scratch was definitely a milestone worth celebrating.

How do you envision your future career in tech, and how does being a mother influence your aspirations?

Crystal: In envisioning my future career in tech, I see myself contributing to innovative projects, solving real-world problems, and advocating for diversity and inclusion in the industry. As a mother, my aspirations are influenced by a desire to create a better future for my children and inspire them to pursue their passions fearlessly. I aim to leverage my unique experiences and skills to make a positive and meaningful impact in the tech industry, while also prioritizing work-life balance and family well-being.

I envision myself working for a tech company that truly impacts people's everyday lives. Being a mother influences my aspirations profoundly because I'm driven by the knowledge that what I contribute to the world of tech will directly benefit my children, family, and friends. It adds a layer of purpose and motivation to my career goals.

What message would you like to convey to other mothers who may doubt their ability to pursue a career in tech while raising a family?

Crystal: To other mothers who may doubt their ability to pursue a career in tech while raising a family, I want to convey this: You are capable, resilient, and deserving of success. Embrace your unique journey, lean on your support system, and believe in your abilities. Your experiences as a mother equip you with invaluable skills that translate seamlessly into the tech world. Don't let doubt or fear hold you back—take the leap, pursue your dreams, and show the world what you're capable of. Remember, it's never too late to pursue your passions and create a better future for yourself and your family.

The message I want to share is this: Whatever path of growth you choose, remember that your children are watching and learning from your journey. By making yourself proud, you're also setting an inspiring example for them. As mothers, we're capable of incredible things, and it's important to believe in our own abilities and aspirations. You are amazing!

Celebrate Women’s History Month with Atlas

We’re proud to highlight the achievements of women pushing barriers in Tulsa’s tech scene. As we continue to observe Women’s History Month, we invite you to Join us for Equal Pay Day on Tuesday, March 12th, for a panel discussion and women’s resource fair. We look forward to seeing you there to continue the conversation on equity in tech!

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