First cohorts of iDEW students graduate college: Where are they now?
June 16, 2022
The IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI class of 2022 was 423 members strong; several of those graduating began their journey in the Informatics Diversity-Enhanced Workforce (iDEW) program over the last seven years.
As of 2021, 563 students—from eight Indianapolis area high schools—had embarked on their post-secondary journey in 19 states; 14 enrolled at 7 HBCUs. And 20 had graduated from two- or four-year programs, with two enrolled in master’s programs. Seventy percent majored in a STEM subject.
iDEW is a pipeline from high school to workforce initiative designed to encourage and support underserved youth in developing skills for an IT career. Certifications, field trips, mentoring, workshops, and internships in preparation for the workforce and/or degree programs are part of the wraparound support to the curriculum. Those attending IUPUI or Ivy Tech also qualified for the Learning Informatics for Tomorrow (LiFT) scholarships funded through an NSF S-STEM grant awarded to Mathew Palakal, Ph.D., senior executive associate dean of the School of Informatics and Computing and leader of the iDEW program.
Following is a sampling of former iDEW students and where they are now.
A 2018 graduate of Pike High School, Rebekah Holcomb participated in the iDEW program starting her junior year. That summer she interned at Eli Lilly and Co, working with their databases. “I learned a lot about professionalism in the office. Coming from high school directly into a business casual office was different and hard. Everyone was older and more mature than me, so I felt like I had a lot to make up and I couldn’t just be a high school student. Thanks to that, I’m a lot more professional and charismatic in the tech field. I learned how to be myself, while still being professional,” Holcomb said.
When I was a student in IDEW I learned how to code, build a robot, and even work in a team. Overall, it was through the bonds that I built and the skills that I learned that helped me find out that college was for me.
Holcomb went on to major in Informatics as a LiFT Scholar at the IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI and graduated May of this year. During her time at SoIC, she was selected as a summer Techpoint XTern working at Techpoint. “I did a lot at TechPoint from planning events, to taking attendance and even visualizing data. It was in my TechPoint internship that I truly learned about having a love for a job,” she said. “They made me feel right at home and my love for Indiana grew as well. It didn’t just show in the numbers, but also the events that they planned and how well they interacted with their Xterns.”
She also had high praise for the SoIC and iDEW staff during her time at Pike, IUPUI, and Techpoint including Vicki Daugherty, Tina Rice, Merillat Flowers, Le’Joy White, and Molly Morin.
“Vicki encouraged me to do my best and was always a listening ear,” Holcomb said. “Tina was the one who introduced me to so many opportunities. She reminded me of when I needed to do things and she understood when I tried to spread myself thin and do some things that I couldn’t. She was basically my voice of reason.
“Merillat was my supervisor at TechPoint. She taught me that my way of working was putting a strain on me and that I needed to be able to prioritize my work. Le’Joy was always flexible and understanding whenever my schedule was way too much. She taught me that it was okay to fail and that other people’s expectations of me shouldn’t come before my health. Molly taught me how to navigate being a woman of color in a predominately non-folk of color field. We were both first generation students who supported their families. It meant a lot when she saw something in me and when she gave me an open ear to vent. It was her enthusiasm….that kept me in college and going when I started to feel that it wasn’t for me.”
Holcomb will be working at Celigo, Inc. an IT service management company, following graduation.
Karen and Katherine Barrientos Moreno
Pike High School graduates Katherine and Karen Barrientos Moreno have UX internships this summer; Karen is at Oracle and Katherine is at 3M. They are both attending Purdue University.
Bowling is a graduate of Arsenal Technical High School in 2018 and Purdue University in 2022, with a BS in Computer Information Technology. He now works as an Operations Engineer at ReliaQuest.
Evans graduated from Arsenal Technical High School in 2016 and Purdue University in 2020, with a B.A. in Law and Society. She is currently enrolled at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.
Korrie is also an Arsenal Technical High School graduate and received her B.S. in Applied Science from Taylor University in 2021. She is employed as a full-stack (web) developer at Infosys.
Lopez graduated from Providence Cristo Rey High School in 2018 and completed her B.S. in Informatics at IUPUI in 2022. While at the School of Informatics and Computing, she was selected as an I3 Researcher, iSchool Inclusion Institute (I3) in 2019. Lopez has accepted a position as a Business Intelligence and Data Analyst at General Motors.
Oscar Aca Saucedo
Saucedo is a graduate of Pike High School and received his B.S. in Computer Engineering from IUPUI in 2021. He is employed as a Software Development Engineer in Test at Moser Consulting and is pursuing an M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering.