Growing up in Virginia, Dominique Meeks Gombe idolized her family physician — a young Black woman who inspired Meeks Gombe to pursue her passion for chemistry.
While Meeks Gombe began her career working in an environmental chemistry lab, after observing multiple inefficient processes in and around the lab, she took the initiative to teach herself to code in order to automate and streamline those issues.
That sparked her love for coding and imminent career shift. Now a software engineer at Capital One, Meeks Gombe wants to be a similar role model to her childhood mentor and encourage girls to pursue any career they desire.
"I'm so passionate about technology because that's where the world is going," Meeks Gombe said. "All of today's problems will be solved using technology. So it's very important for me, as a Black woman, to be at the proverbial table with my unique perspective."
The nonprofit's mission is aimed at empowering Black girls in Central Virginia. The organization focuses on designing, leading, funding and implementing social change projects that tackle issues girls face in their own neighborhoods.
Girls For a Change is one of many local nonprofits that receive support from the Capital One Impact Initiative, which strives to close gaps in equity while helping people gain better access to economic and social opportunities. The initial $200 million, five-year national commitment aims to support growth in underserved communities as well as advance socioeconomic mobility.
Through the Capital One Coders program, girls can gain early access to computer science education which can directly inspire their confidence levels and interest in computer science.
In fact, a report from Code.org says that Black and Hispanic students who take computer science classes before college are seven times more likely to major in computer science.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Meeks Gombe helped to develop a virtual curriculum that included breakout rooms with custom games and quizzes. In her role as a lead teacher for Girls For A Change, Meeks Gombe's visibility as a Black technologist and leader is helping to create a lasting impact on her students.
"Just having girls see the variety of career opportunities led by people who look like them opens up that possibility. There's a connection made when girls see me in a role that they don't usually associate themselves with. I can't reach every girl, but I want them to know that they can do this," Meeks Gombe said.
Capital One Vice President of HR Technology, Maureen Jules-Perez echoed Meeks Gombe's perspective. For Jules-Perez, who served on the organization's board for a few years before becoming the new Board Chair of Girl's For a Change this year, the mission of the nonprofit parallels her motto of "Tech For Good" which uses tech to improve social, environmental, and economic outcomes. The organization's long-term programs give girls the option to see themselves as artists, entrepreneurs and technologists, among other career opportunities.
"I came from a similar background so I feel like I'm one of those girls," said Jules-Perez. "I know what it's like to have someone champion you, but also the opposite feeling of knowing someone who doesn't think you're worthy. I'm haunted by the thought that there's a Black girl or a person of color who doesn't feel seen or doesn't think the world wants them. Girls For A Change prepares Black girls for the world."
Beyond helping girls see their potential as future technologists, Girls For A Change's CEO Angela Patton is working hard on her action-oriented vision to help realize the unmet needs of all girls in Central Virginia.
Her focus is particularly on what she calls "at-promise" youth who have natural gifts and innate potential where their circumstances don't define their identities. For more than a decade, Patton has supported at-promise girls with incarcerated fathers through Dance With Dad, a rehabilitation program founded by a group of young girls who wanted to invite their jailed fathers into their lives on their own terms and define their futures. The girls, Patton explained, wrote to a police sheriff to allow them to hold a dance with their fathers in jail. More than a decade since the program began, not one of the fathers had been reincarcerated again.
"We're teaching girls to elevate their voices," said Patton. "We want them to experience the moment where they feel ownership and empowerment so that they can change their own lives."
Girls For A Change has partnered with Capital One since 2017 to connect girls with career and life opportunities for which they otherwise may not have access or insight.
Since the partnership began, Capital One has supported 15 different programs with Girls for A Change. Seven of these programs were Capital One Coders camps and nearly 80 Capital One Tech associates have supported Girls For A Change girls over the last few years through those programs.
"For some of the girls aging out of the Girls For A Change program, they had a chance to do mock interviews with Capital One associates and get feedback for entry-level positions," said Patton. "I love that I have resources to point my girls to so that they can have a chance at better outcomes."
All together, now: who runs the world?
Masters of design are like magicians. They have a beautiful gift of being able to manipulate our movements, thoughts, and emotions without us even knowing. Their clandestine work is all around us but only those who practice the arts can see it in action.
One such master is Svilen, an inventor, designer, and futurist originally from Bulgaria who's since moved to the Washington, D.C. area. According to his Medium page, he invents "concepts for products and experiences ranging from reimagining the mundane, to protecting fundamental human rights."
In his downtime, he's created a TikTok page where he reveals the design secrets behind everyday things that we take for granted. He has nearly 600,000 followers and his videos have received 5.6 million likes.
Here are nine of his most popular videos that reveal the hidden secrets behind everything from kids' cartoons to snack foods.
1.) Why do old cartoon characters wear neck collars?
"By giving characters something to wear around their necks, it meant that animators could keep the exact same body position and only animate the head while it was moving and talking, which not only meant that the frames required for a 7 min cartoon were reduced from 14000 down to just 2000, but this move is actually credited with saving the entire animation industry."Why are the interiors of movie theaters red?
Why old #cartoon characters wear neck collars #designsecrets #animation #anime #design #fypシ
2.) Why are movie theater interiors red?
"If you ever noticed that in theatres curtains and seats tend to be the color red, that's no coincidence, that's by design. And that's because the color red is the first color that the human eye loses sight of in dark and low light conditions, making it easier for you to focus on the performance or movie screen and not get distracted by the surroundings."
Why movie theater seats are colored red #movie #design #designsecrets #ux #color #learnontiktok #fypシ
3.) Why do snipers wear their watches upside down?
"The reason snipers wear their watches upside down like this is to avoid the sun or moonlight from reflecting off their watch face, into the enemies eyes and therefore, giving away their location."
#watch #design #time #designsecrets #ux #fypシ
4.) Why are Pringles shaped that way?
"Pringles enlisted the help of supercomputers to come up with an aerodynamic shape for the potato chips known as a hyperbolic paraboloid, so the chips don't fly off of the production line."
@pringles #designsecrets #food #design #manufacturing #fypシ
5.) The mysterious power of Baker-Miller pink
"[Alexander Schauss] discovered that this very specific shade of pink had a very profound calming effect on people. It would make them relax, lower their heart rate, breathing, and even curb their appetite."
#color #psychology #design #designsecrets #ux #learnontiktok #fypシ
6.) How an airport reduced complaints at airport baggage claims
"The Houston Airport in Texas was experiencing an extraordinary amount of complaints regarding the baggage claim wait times. ... Upon further investigation, they found out that it only took passengers 1 minute to walk from their arrival gate to baggage claim and then 7 more minutes for their luggage to arrive. ... They moved baggage claim as far as possible, so now it took passengers 6 times longer to get to it. And just like that, overnight complaints dropped to nearly zero."
How an #airport reduced complaints #travel #trip #plane #psychology #design #designsecrets #learnontiktok #fypシ
7.) Why do London pubs have weird names?
"Since many of the pubs in Britain are hundreds of years old, back in those days, a lot of people were illiterate, which meant that they couldn't easily identify and discover businesses. So business owners got creative and instead of using letters, they started using pictures of easily identifiable and recognizable objects in their logos, so that even people that can't read can still find the business easily."
Why #London pubs have weird names #designsecrets #pub #london #uk #graphicdesign #learnontiktok
8.) How does blue lighting stop drug use?
"The blue lighting makes it impossible for the drug user to find his or her veins because they're also colored blue; therefore, it elegantly prevents them from injecting drugs in the first place in a non-confrontational and cheap fashion."
Preventing drug use with blue light #designsecrets #design #interiordesign #learnontiktok
9.) What secrets are lurking in your elevator?
"Moving down to the lobby, you will notice a lot of mirrors and reflective surfaces. It could be the elevator doors themselves or just decorative mirrors hanging around. And those are there to actually distract you from the fact that the elevator is taking a long time."
Secret user experience design of elevators #ux #design #designsecrets #learningontiktok
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