Black History Month: Highlighting Pioneers and Trailblazers in Tech

In honor of Black History Month we want to highlight a few of the stories of Black Americans who have discovered the rewarding and transformative power of learning technology skills. These men and women have overcome incredible structural and cultural obstacles to change their lives and lead by example. Join us as we introduce (or reintroduce) you to some of these amazing trailblazers—who are paving the way for generations to come.

At Code Fellows, we believe tech careers should be open to everyone. The future of tech needs to be shaped by the diversity in our world–through the full breadth of humanity. It will be the people from all walks of life desiring to level up, the curious who fall in love with learning, and the problem solvers who see things that need to be changed that will find rewarding careers in technology. As we continue to work at ensuring more Black Americans are finding rewarding careers within tech, we want to take a moment to highlight the lives of just a few Black men and women who have led the way.

Deziree TeagueDezireé Teague

Dezireé is a native Washingtonian with a background in bilingual education — making a huge impact in the world. Before coming to Code Fellows to pursue a career in tech, she was teaching English in countries including Costa Rica, Guatemala, Spain, and Australia. Her passion for education combined with her desire to help underserved communities by breaking down barriers that exist is what propelled her to pursue a career in tech.

Dezireé graduated from Code Fellows in March of 2019 and now works as a SDE (Software Development Engineer) at Committee for Children, a non-profit organization that strives to promote the safety, well-being, and success of children in school and in life. Dezireé is passionate about increasing diversity & inclusion in the tech space and is a strong advocate in the community. When Dezireé isn’t working, she is giving accessibility workshops or inspiring future coders by teaching young women to follow in her footsteps with Black Girls Code.

"You, your story, and your experiences are valuable—and you are meant to be where you are. The tech industry, like others, may still feel incredibly far behind; it can be difficult to feel like you belong, but you do. Take every day as a learning experience, celebrate all of your accomplishments, and continue to support others—and especially yourself—every chance you get." — Dezireé Teague, Software Engineer, Community Advocate, Inspiring Leader

Caleb WellsCaleb Wells

Caleb always thought he would end up in a career that involved tech, but he wasn’t confident that coding was right for him. He eventually took a leap which led him to Code Fellows where he became a JavaScript Developer, and after graduating he was hired as a Software Design Engineer at Alaska Airlines.

Caleb believes that focusing on making the teams he works with feel comfortable approaching him with any concern is key to learning and growing. He values diverse perspectives and seeks out opportunities to work with and get to know people who see the world differently.

"As a passionate life-long learner, I find that success is largely built upon diligently studying and learning, having fun with the process of learning, not being afraid to fail, and never being afraid to ask for help and learn from your peers and colleagues." — Caleb Wells, Software Development Engineer, Gamer, and Life-long Learner

Munir IbrahimMunir Ibrahim

Before joining Code Fellows, Munir had recently graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Mathematics. After doing research, he decided Code Fellows was the place for him because it provided an inclusive environment with instructors and staff who were welcoming and supportive yet challenging and driven.

After graduating from Code Fellows in 2016, Munir landed a job at Microsoft as a Software Engineer and eventually became a Software Design Engineer 3 before joining the growing team at Smartsheet.

Munir has passionately paid it forward by encouraging and supporting several of his family members to follow in his footsteps. He is a passionate believer in working and studying hard, learning from others, and pursuing every opportunity to learn and grow.

"Practice, practice, practice. Don’t feel discouraged when you struggle and trust the learning process. Make friends and always welcome collaboration. There is always something to learn from the people you encounter." — Munir Ibrahim, Software Engineer, Passionate Learner, Tech Advocate

Jeremiah WaltersJeremiah Walters

Jeremiah is a true example of grit and determination. Before coming to Code Fellows, Jeremiah worked his way up the culinary ladder where he was Head Bartender for some of the top restaurants in Washington state. It was while working an event at Microsoft that he felt inspired to start a career in tech.

Through his dedication, focus and drive, Jeremiah graduated from Code Fellows in 2017 and landed a job as an Azure Cloud Engineer at Microsoft. His pursuit of collaboration and passion for learning continues to propel him to tackle new challenges. Beyond his work at Microsoft, Jeremiah is an ambitious entrepreneur launching businesses such as The Afrotechnicians, a non-profit organization geared towards teaching Black youth tech and life skills. At the same time, Jeremiah also runs a full-time tech consultancy that has supported the launch of companies like UrbanBlack, Underrepresented, and The Parker Grant.

In addition to his work at Microsoft and his entrepreneurial endeavors, Jeremiah often speaks on topics around inclusivity, grit and determination, and the power of technology inspiring more individuals to pursue their passion, knock down barriers and embrace a growth mindset.

"Have the grit and resilience to make up what you lack in experience. Bring people together and think outside the box. Find innovative and effective solutions by leveraging an engineering mindset. Be customer-obsessed and self-motivated. Give back and be a vocal advocate for change." —Jeremiah Walters, Azure Engineer, Entrepreneur, Speaker and Advocate.

Feel inspired? We are! This is why we are recognizing these individuals, their journeys, and their passion to give back, help others, and break down barriers! Ready to begin your own journey? Come join us! A welcoming community of people who are here to help you unlock your potential.

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