Taylor Walker

Software Consultant
IBM
George Mason University

About Me

I thought I would be a lawyer, a patent lawyer to be exact. At the time, I really enjoyed law, but I also loved technology and being creative. So, I thought that patent law would be the perfect way to combine the two. I went to a high school outside of my district because I wanted to attend a particular legal studies academy at one of the high schools near where I am from. During my sophomore year, I took a computer class and discovered that pursuing a career in law wasn’t what I actually wanted. This gave me the drive to focus on what I truly wanted to do.

In my first year of college I took a pre-calculus class even though math was ALWAYS a struggle for me. I experienced a devastating setback when I failed the class and I worried constantly about my GPA and how it would affect my graduation. After a while, I realized that I was letting fear get in the way of who I was. By approaching the class with the perception of how hard math was for me, I limited my potential to perform well in the class. I eventually took the class again and passed. I never failed another math class.

How was your experience with STEM classes and teachers in middle and high school?

I struggled with some of the STEM classes in middle school but things got better once I got to high school. I believe my focus shifted in the right direction in high school because I started to figure out exactly what I wanted to do.

What’s next for you?

After grad school, I hope to have a new position, but I’m still figuring out what role I will pursue. I have an interest in social media positions related to the information security field.

What do you do to unwind?

Volunteering, writing for my blog lettaytellit.com,  spending time with family and traveling.

My Career

Why did you choose a Computer Science major?

I have always been tech savvy. My mom noticed how well I worked with computers and encouraged me to take computer classes in high school. However, I remember one conversation in particular with my uncle and cousin that helped me take the final step is deciding my career path. We talked about my natural strengths and the vision I had for secondary education. They recommended computer science and computer engineering research.

After learning more about computer engineering—which focuses more on the hardware aspect of the computer—I decided that computer science was the better fit. I enjoyed programming and web development and I knew that a degree in computer science would grant me access to a broader range of technology to explore.

What motivated you to pursue an software consulting position?

In my previous position, I was an IT Specialist at IBM two years before I decided to pursue something different; even though I did not want to leave the company. I searched for openings within the company and found a position that would give me an opportunity to try new things and learn more about technology. I’m always looking for ways to sharpen my skills.

What is the coolest part of your job?    

The best part of my job is that I get to travel and never stop learning.

You work full time, why did you choose to go to grad school at the same time?       

My honest answer is more money! Having a master’s degree will definitely help me achieve this BUT I also chose to attend grad school to be in the information security field. I know that a master’s degree will be a significant factor in my progression as a professional in my field. My graduate program helps me gain the technical knowledge I need to understand the relationship between information security and advancing information systems technology. It can get pretty challenging. It requires a lot of time management, focus and some serious determination.

Do you ever feel discouraged? How do you get around that?

I felt discouraged right before attending college. I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay for school since my loans and scholarships did not cover the full amount. Thankfully, I was able to receive an additional scholarship from the computer science department and my dad paid the remaining amount out-of-pocket for the first two years. During my junior and senior year, I obtained an internship that also gave me a scholarship, which took care of the rest of my expenses for my final two years in college.

Who are some of your biggest cheerleaders?

My mother and father are my biggest cheerleaders. They have cheered for me even when I was hard on myself. I also have my role model cousins Lauren and Avis, my friends and my line sisters.

What do you want to say to up and coming Melanin Genius?

Be who you are no matter what! Find what it is you want to do and do it to the best of your ability. Do not limit yourself because it’s true what they say, the sky really is the only limit.

What has been the most useful life advice you have received?

My mom always told me to make sure that I am doing what I love—no matter what. As an adult, I finally understand the importance of doing what you’re passionate about. It makes working a lot easier.

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