Brianna Roundtree
Category: 2022 High School Winner

Brianna Roundtree

As famed American actress Elizabeth Marvel once said, “If you can see it, you can be it.”

Growing up, I’ve always had a knack for STEM and entrepreneurship. I was constantly playing with science kits and creating imaginary businesses to “pitch” to my parents. In middle school, I discovered coding and was instantly drawn to its versatility. I started teaching myself the Python programming language and continued pursuing coding through workshops and courses, but found the most joy working on my own personal projects. I became very interested in creating my own business using computer science. However, I never fully fathomed that I could actually turn this passion into a career.

I had never seen someone who looked like me pursue entrepreneurship in tech and was able to make a successful career out of it.

It was not until high school when I came across Kimberly Bryant, the founder of Black Girls CODE, and got the representation that I was looking for.

Kimberly Bryant was sparked to create change when her daughter felt ostracized after attending a computer science camp. She was the only black girl and noticed that the boys received more attention than the girls. Around the same time, Bryant experienced firsthand the lack of diversity in tech companies within Silicon Valley while exploring the world of startups. She was given a close-up of the marginalization of women and people of color in the startup and tech world.

In 2011, she decided to dedicate her efforts to “change the face of technology” by founding her non-profit organization, Black Girls CODE, to introduce young girls of color to computer science and entrepreneurship in tech. Since then, she has been nationally recognized as a leader in her cause to increase opportunities for women within tech. She was awarded the prestigious Jefferson Award for Community Service for her work and has been recognized for her influence in Business Insider’s “The 25 Most Influential African-Americans in Technology”, The Root 100, and the Ebony Power 100 lists. She was even recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change for her efforts toward tech inclusion and narrowing the digital divide for girls of color. Today, her initiative has spread to over a dozen cities and has an international reach in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Through her work, Bryant holds up a mirror so that young African American girls like myself can see that we, too, can make up the face of the tech industry and participate in startup culture. I know my journey to achieve a computer science degree and my dream career of being a tech entrepreneur will not come without its challenges. However, Kimberly Bryant inspires me to keep going in the face of these obstacles. She is my role-model. I look up to her and see that I can realize my dream of becoming a tech entrepreneur as a woman of color in a male-dominated field.

Now, when I look to my future, I see me.