Izeth first got involved with Break Through Tech AI at UCLA in the summer of 2023. After attending a Zoom information session for Break Through Tech, Izeth knew she wanted to apply. As a female in a male-dominated field, she loved the opportunity offered to underrepresented communities and was looking for a change.
Izeth Torres Reyes was born in Mexico and moved to California with her family when she was 5. Initially, they shared a home with three other families, and eventually, they moved to their own home in San Bernardino. Her father started his own landscaping business, and her mother was a homemaker and occasionally took on odd jobs at restaurants when the family needed extra income.
Izeth’s favorite subject in high school was ceramics; she loved getting her hands dirty with clay. Although math was not one of her favorite subjects, she realized she was good at it, and it’s where she got her best grades.
Upon graduating high school, Izeth went on to attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, where she got an associate degree in fashion design while working part-time in a retail store. With that associate degree, Izeth started working in the fashion industry but quickly realized it was not where she wanted to be.
Izeth moved on to work as an instructional assistant at a preschool, which she enjoyed and stayed at for four years. She then began teaching at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, and finally, adult transition programs with ESL and special education students.
With 17 years under her belt in education, Izeth started to feel the beginning stages of educator burnout. Realizing she didn’t want to continue in a field where she might not give her best, she decided to switch gears. She had always been interested in technology and even considered studying computer engineering in high school. She researched, took a couple of courses at a local community college, and fell in love with her first C++ programming class. That’s where Izeth’s journey began towards earning her bachelor’s degree in computer science.
“Never doubt yourself. You are smart enough, you are strong enough, and you deserve to be where you are.”
Izeth first got involved with Break Through Tech in the summer of 2023. Before that, she participated in a summer research program at California State University-San Bernardino, studying Ramsey numbers. She was also part of the CSU-LSAMP program at Cal State LA. She soon found herself attending a Zoom information session for Break Through Tech, and Izeth knew she wanted to apply. As a female in a male-dominated field, she loved the opportunity offered to underrepresented communities.
She participated in the Break Through Tech summer class online and developed a new perspective on data science and AI. Izeth realized that so much data is underutilized or not utilized properly, and it would be hugely rewarding to take that data and use it for good. With the summer class completed, she moved on to be part of the AI Studio program. Being able to problem-solve an collaborate face-to-face with her cohort has been an invaluable experience.
Asked about the lessons she will take from her involvement with Break Through Tech, Izeth said that participating in the program hasn’t been easy, especially while taking full-time classes. “But the skills I learned over the summer, and now collaborating with my group and Challenge Advisor, have given me the confidence I need to know that I will succeed in my future career in tech.”
And if Izeth needs extra motivation, she only needs to look back and see how far she has come: “I was not always sure I had made the right choice in studying Computer Science, but the more I learn, the more I get involved in the field, the more I realize that I made the right choice. There were many times I wanted to give up, but I kept thinking about making my family proud.” She also hopes to inspire other women to take up computer science: “Currently, only one-third of individuals employed in STEM occupations are women; we need to make it an even playing field.”
Finally, Izeth advises younger students: “Never doubt yourself. There will be times when you may feel you have picked the wrong route to study or that you may not get through your classes, but you will. You are smart enough, you are strong enough, and you deserve to be where you are. Try to surround yourself with positive people; positivity is contagious.”