2020 Professional Development Scholar Spotlight: Amy Diakhoumpa

Amy Diakhoumpa

Amy Diakhoumpa’s (CS & EVS, Spring ’22) interest in science began from a young age. She had a knack for biology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics while in school in Dakar, Senegal, where she was born and raised. But it was in high school that she got her start in the field when she enrolled in the Experimental Science program.

Despite her passion for science, Amy never really expected to choose her own major. “To earn a high school diploma [in Senegal], you have to pass an exam at the end of your senior year. This exam covers everything, from your first year to your senior year, and based on your results, they will assign you a major,” she explains.

Thus, when it came to applying to Montgomery College in 2017 and choosing her career path, Amy wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted to do. One thing she knew was that she had a thirst for continual learning and the drive to gain expertise in a global field. “My dad recommended me to choose computer science, as I was already exposed to all the fields of science but this one,” she remembers.

So, after doing her research, she decided to follow her dad’s advice and commit to majoring in computer science because it is a field that offers exciting opportunities and “can be integrated in many different fields.” Amy also finds it fascinating that almost every aspect of society relies on the innovations of the computer science industry. Even more importantly, there are many more exciting discoveries and applications yet to come, and she can be part of this process of exploration and innovation.

"Technology is a field that is constantly growing and it blows my mind how powerful it can be as a tool to solve worldly problems."

When it comes to gender gap, it’s not much of a secret for Amy that women are still woefully underrepresented in the tech field. “I have been in classes with 90% men, where it was very hard to express my thoughts and even harder to make my voice heard,” she says. “In addition to that,” she adds, “being a black woman in tech makes it even more challenging.” As a result, she has often found herself lacking a sense of belonging and questioning if computer science was the right field for her.

Amy also thinks women may be equally skilled and competent but lack their male peers’ confidence “who actually overestimate their skills.” She has noticed that male students tend to “complete the tasks more easily.” She says they may not have better solutions than women but they definitely appear to have higher levels of self-esteem.    

"It is high time we make some changes and have more women representation in the tech industry and, more importantly, minorities."

Amy’s Thoughts on CWRU Women in Tech Initiative

Amy thinks CWRU Women in Tech is an opportunity for her to develop better communication and negotiation skills, “as well as learn how to network and maintain successful connections.” She hopes the program will help her become more confident and gain a better understanding of what it takes to be a strong professional woman in a male-dominated industry.

"I see CWRU Women in Tech program as a safe place where I have other female peers going through the same struggles as me and who can relate to the challenges I am facing in my field."