As part of the “Young Women Shaping the Future of Tech Series,” Break Through Tech National's Communications Intern, Lena Rose, shares her journey into tech.
- Young Women Shaping the Future of Tech Series
Growing up in a small town of Pennsylvania, as a queer adopted Asian American woman, I realized early on in my life that the world is a complex and interconnected place.
I’ve been shaped by the people closest to me; my mom instilled in me a nurturing love for others, and my dad taught me how to take things easy and laugh a little. I grew up alongside my younger sister, who, funnily enough, taught me patience and compassion. Throughout my childhood, I was fascinated by the diversity of the human race, which led me to move to New York and pursue an international studies degree at Fordham University. Now, as a graduating senior, I am preparing for a cybersecurity career in government.
My early years consisted of a lot of community engagement and interpersonal skill-building. I served as a student leader in marching band and played varsity softball for my four years of high school while taking advanced courses for the International Baccalaureate diploma. I spent my weekends and summers working at a laser tag arena and volunteering with Everytown for Gun Safety. Frankly, I’ve never had a favorite subject in school and struggled with balancing school, work, and extracurriculars. However, I enjoyed Spanish in my latter two years of high school because I had the opportunity to learn about Latin American culture through different texts and literature. These formative years drove me to a career path where I could explore the diverse world I knew was waiting for me.
Finding my way to the tech sector with a humanities and social sciences background took longer than expected. I hadn’t realized how to connect technology to international affairs until later in my college career when I understood its connection to the cybersecurity sector. Consequently, I wrote my senior thesis on cyberspace, where I examined real-life cyberspace case studies in different countries. Drafting this long-term research paper furthered my passion for technology and its relationship to international affairs.
Though I had no prior technical experience, I was eager to pursue more tech-related roles, which led me to become Break Through Tech’s national communications intern. Though I haven’t participated in any Break Through Tech programs, being part of this initiative as an intern has still greatly influenced my professional development as a woman in tech. I feel inspired knowing that I stand alongside such intelligent and strong women in a field with significant gender and racial adversity, and I intend to continue this mission in my future government role.
My advice to the younger folks who are still figuring out what they want to do: the best thing you can do is try new experiences and meet new people. This will broaden your worldview and help you learn something new. Additionally, having a small but supportive circle can help you deal with the challenges that come your way in your personal or professional life. I’ve lost count of the number of times where I’ve put myself through stress, but I always remember (and am thankful for) the times where someone reminded me to take a breath and enjoy life.
My identity as a curious, compassionate, and active student leader has helped me view the world as more multidimensional, which has influenced how I perceive technology. I used to see technology, especially computer science, as simple and straightforward. Now, I realize that technology is multilayered and how crucial it is to connect it with other fields of study.
I hope that the future of tech will be a holistic and interconnected system where people from all different academic fields—from sciences to humanities—can put their opinions, ideas, and skills towards shaping a safer and more equitable technology society. As I still have an entire career ahead of me, I intend to improve my coding and programming skills by joining organizations that will uplift women in technology and international security.
Upon graduating from Fordham in May, I will be pursuing a master’s degree in security policy studies with a science and technology concentration at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. I have been selected as a CyberCorps Scholarship for Service recipient, which will embolden my mission of becoming a woman in cybersecurity. I will carry out Break Through Tech’s mission of achieving gender equity in tech for the remainder of my career, and I will be forever grateful for the skills and lessons learned through this transformative experience.