2020 Professional Development Scholar Spotlight: Mikayla Heinrich-Wong


Mikayla Heinrich-Wong

When Mikayla Heinrich-Wong (CS and Dance, Minor Computer Engineering ’23) first saw motion capture combined with technology, that’s when the seed was planted that eventually led her to the technology field. As a young girl, she was obsessed with dance. So, she became excited about the opportunities that are brought by convergence of these two symbiotic fields – technology and art.

“Technology and motion capture opened up this whole new world to me. I think the opportunities that become available when technology is used with art are underrated and not widely recognized.”

Coming from an artistic background, Mikayla is fascinated with the idea of finding ways to visualize the intangible and using technology to develop innovative solutions. “I’m amazed by the ability to use technology to transform any idea or concept from your imagination into a reality,” she said, adding, “It’s one thing to dream about and design things in your mind, but to be able to apply it and physically see it come to life is truly remarkable.”

With men comprising a high percentage of those in the tech space, Mikayla thinks it can be difficult as a woman trying to have a career in tech. Her primary challenge has been facing and overcoming intimidation. She believes her male peers might look upon her lack of experience as an indicator of her credibility or “how well she’ll do.” She has also become very familiar with the concerns expressed by her mentors who have confronted gender bias at different stages in their lives.

“So far, the most challenging experience I’ve had is with intimidation. Whether it’s from the amount of experience I have compared to others or the amount of students I can identify with, I’ve struggled with whether I’m pursuing the right area of study.”

Mikayla hopes CWRU WIT Professional Development Scholars Program will help her gain the necessary networking and workplace skills to pursue opportunities in her field and have a successful career. She also thinks the program is an opportunity to prevent certain career roadblocks for herself in the future.

“It makes me feel valued and acknowledged. I love how this program acknowledges the difficulties we face as women in tech and is focused on preparing us for when we encounter these obstacles.”