Creating Space for Black Entrepreneurs
Growing up in southwest Atlanta, India Godfrey was surrounded by Black entrepreneurs. From hair salons to grocery stores, successful Black-owned businesses were a regular part of her life. From the age of 12, Godfrey can remember having side-hustle projects and seeing her parents do the same.
After coming to Georgia Tech, Godfrey realized how few Black-owned businesses are tech related and that there wasn’t a space for Black Yellow Jackets to discuss their business ideas.
Godfrey and four of her classmates co-founded The Black Market, a student club that supports the Black entrepreneurship community at Georgia Tech. Founded in 2020, the club has had venture capitalists and other inspiring speakers share personal experiences with creating their own businesses and products. They have also partnered with Georgia Tech’s CREATE-X program to encourage more Black students to apply to the program and hosted Shark Tank-themed meetings to help club members hone their pitches and ideas.
Godfrey is hopeful that The Black Market will encourage more Black students to be inventive and pursue their own ideas.
“It’s easy to get caught in the rat race to a corporate job, something that Georgia Tech prepares you well for. I think our goal needs to be how do we get money so we can live the lives we want. Let’s make our wonderful Tech degrees work for us instead of [us] working for that degree and then working for someone else.”
For people unsure about getting started in entrepreneurship, Godfrey recommends finding hobbies and building prototypes to make them better.
“Always have a personal project and never be afraid to pursue a different mountaintop than the one people are telling you to climb.”
Photo Credit: KennyTakesPictures
Computer Science (GT ’22)
Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.
“Always have a personal project and never be afraid to pursue a different mountain top than the one people are telling you to climb.”
Creating Curriculum with Minorities in Mind
Computer Science (GT ’22)
Hometown: Conyers, Ga.
“Take time to enjoy your major. I genuinely think computing students hold the key to the future in their laptops so just using it to get a job seems like a waste.”
Cameron Bennett has always had a general interest in computers. It wasn’t until he went to summer camp in high school that he made a friend who could teach him how to work with them at a higher level. His friend eventually taught Bennett about API’s, how to develop mobile apps, and gave him his first job working with software. These experiences lead Bennett to eventually major in computer science with his sights set on a master’s degree and eventually a career with Microsoft.
Now as a third-year undergraduate, Bennett is a part of the tech team with HackGT and a member of the Alternative Service Breaks Club. He is also a curriculum lead for Minorities at College of Computing (M@CC).
Through his work with M@CC, Bennett plans and presents workshops specifically designed with club members in mind to expose them to frameworks and developer tools that are not present in their academic curriculum. The club also serves as a forum for students to share and discuss any questions or concerns they have surrounding academics, employment, or engaging in the tech industry. M@CC also works to connect students with prestigious companies.
Based on his own experiences, Bennett is passionate about providing mentorship and safe spaces for students to learn.
“I’ve seen how hard it can be to start learning new things, especially in areas unfamiliar to you and the people around you. Good mentorship can be foundational in growing organizations and making learning enjoyable for all involved.”
Most Georgia Tech students are notorious for being overachievers and super active, but Bennett leaves some sage advice, “Take time to enjoy your major. I genuinely think computing students hold the key to the future in their laptops so just using it to get a job seems like a waste.”
Attending Georgia Tech requires a significant amount of grit and resilience. With demanding classes and a plethora of extracurricular activities to choose from, it can be easy to stumble.
Inspired by her amazing classmates, fifth-year computer science major Bianca Dankwa decided to serve as a mentor for first-year students and as a teaching assistant for CS1100.
“Mentorship is important because it allows us to form bonds with peers that are new to specific experiences. We can help them avoid mistakes that hindered our success, or encourage and motivate them with advice that got us positive results,” said Dankwa.
For future generations of Georgia Tech students, she hopes there will be more Black professors to learn from and perhaps be mentored by.
To African-American students who are new to computing at Tech, Dankwa has one piece of advice: “The world is your oyster! You are deserving of every opportunity you get!”
Computer Science (GT ’21)
Hometown: Fairburn, Ga.
“The world is your oyster! You are deserving of every opportunity you get!”
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome to Become a Campus Leader
Computational Media (GT ’23)
Hometown: Columbus, Ga.
Logan Sands had experienced imposter syndrome before coming to Georgia Tech and felt like he had overcome those feelings. But after arriving on campus, surrounded by peers who seemed confident in who they were and where they were going, those feelings of inadequacy and doubt started to creep back in.
“I was unsure of my major and I had convinced myself that I did not belong here, and that was evident not only in my academic performance but even in the way I carried myself around campus,” said Sands.
Sands found support in his high school friends and through Georgia Tech programs like the Living Learning Communities (LLC) iGnITe and Grand Challenges. With strong support systems in place, Sands slowly regained his confidence.
Finding his groove and enjoying his new major, computational media – a perfect combination of his previous interest in psychology and new love of computer science – Sands realized he had a lot to give back to the Georgia Tech community.
Reflecting on how helpful his FASET (orientation) experience was as an incoming student, Sands decided to apply to be a FASET Leader and hopefully give new Yellow Jackets a positive and welcoming experience.
While Sands helped new students find their footing, he also had a transformative experience with his definition of leadership.
“I had always seen myself as a leader, yet I had a limited perspective of what it truly meant to be one. I thought leadership was a ‘one size fits all’ role within any strong team or an elusive ability that you just have to be born with. My major takeaway from that summer was that leadership is multifaceted. It can look a bit different for each person.” said Sands.
To Sands, leadership now means being someone who inspires others to be their best selves and who selflessly pours themselves into others. This revelation helped Sands realize that he wanted to influence students and the institute on a larger scale. To do so, he applied to be on the FASET Cabinet, a role where he got to support the next class of FASET leaders.
“FASET, LLC’s, and my friends have all opened so many doors for me. The least I can do is hold the door open for others.”
The Movie Scene that Led to a Career in Cybersecurity
Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity (GT ’22)
The 1993 movie Jurassic Park may have inspired a generation of scientists, but one scene in particular motivated at least one young woman to become a cybersecurity expert.
Grace Fejokwu, a security analyst with experience in the financial and telecommunication sectors, saw the possibilities for her future when watching the 12-year-old Lex, played by Ariana Richards, on the big screen restoring a security network. Lex’s computer wizardry on the park’s UNIX system kept the velociraptors from snacking on her friends. It also motivated Fejokwu from a young age to pursue technology.
Fejokwu is currently a student in Georgia Tech’s Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity (OMS Cyber) program and works full-time as a security analyst at American Express. At her job, she handles a very different type of threat than the one in the movie that first inspired her.
“The most exciting part of my work is learning about different security protocols and procedures to ensure that our applications are protected from data breaches and cybercriminals,” said the Dallas-based Fejokwu. “It is very important that security professionals stay up-to-date on their skills to protect and mitigate risks to their organization.”
Fejokwu has started her own platform, Route to Security, to provide underrepresented groups information and career advice about cybersecurity.
“One motivation for me is to empower young people and minorities to succeed in their cybersecurity careers or transition to one,” she said. “Who knows, perhaps I can be like Lex in some way and inspire others to follow their dreams.”
Georgia Tech’s new School of Cybersecurity and Privacy is using the experiences of Fejokwu and her peers to help build future educational opportunities, including new degree programs for those looking to enter or advance in the cybersecurity and privacy industries.
People Paving the Way
Our world-class students, faculty, staff, and alumni are finding ways to expand access to computing, and to mentoring teachers, developing entrepreneurship, and supporting the Georgia Tech community. Ultimately, they are dynamically paving the way for more Black students to pursue careers in computer science-related fields.