Kendell Byrd – Computer Science Student

A Student's Adventure in Computer Science

Kendell Byrd

If any students or anyone in general has any questions at all about learning computer science and the tech industry, feel free to email me whenever by clicking on the word "Email" below my post.

1.) What is your chosen STEM field?

My chosen STEM field is Computer Science. My favorite areas in Computer Science are Artificial Intelligence and Website Development!

2.) What made you decide to choose this field?

When I was in high school, I only had school four days a week. We never had school on Wednesdays. Wednesdays were designated as “Inquiry Days” and were focused on doing research or independent studies. During my senior year, I got involved in a project focused on advancing communication for people with speech disabilities that was inspired by my principal who had ALS. This project focused on enabling people, who don’t have the use of their vocal boxes or hands and arms, to communicate more effectively. During this project, we experimented with EEG (electroencephalogram) technologies that focused on the study of brain wave and we started constructing an eye writer using a Playstation camera to track user eye movements. As a result of my involvement with this effort, I became more interested in technology and how it could be used to advance the human condition.

Additionally, on some of our Inquiry Days, my advisor, who also chaired the school’s entrepreneurship program, would take some students with him to an entrepreneurial incubator/hub based in Chicago called 1871 (the year Chicago reinvented itself after the Great Chicago Fire). One Wednesday, I went to the 1871 hub and I was really inspired by the energy of the environment. It was filled with really talented and brilliant people (entrepreneurs, programmers, and students) working collaboratively on interesting projects and start-up efforts. It was like the people all around me had their own super power through coding. After spending the day talking to the people about the start-ups they were working on, I asked my advisor if I could be paired up with one of the companies so I could begin to learn about more about entrepreneurship, coding, and business. I was matched with a start-up called Sixteen30 and in my free time and over the summer, I worked with them and started learning my first programming languages: HTML, CSS, and Python.

3.) What obstacles have you had to overcome in your career/college journey?

At Jawbone and Facebook, I worked on projects that required me to code in languages that I was unfamiliar with. Learning PHP, React, Jinja, and other languages while trying to keep up with all the tasks I was given was at first very stressful at times. In addition, at the beginning of both of these internships, I was afraid that the other engineers on my team expected me to know exactly what I was doing and that if I asked them a lot of questions they would think I was stupid or that I didn’t belong in these environments. I believe that encountering this uncertainty and self-doubt made me a stronger person because over time I developed more confidence in reaching out to people for help and became more comfortable admitting things that I didn’t know. I learned that asking questions and being curious did not only enable me to build stronger relationships with my peers, but allowed me to accomplish my projects during the summer more efficiently and effectively.

Currently, I also am facing the challenge of figuring out what exactly I want to do for full-time. However, I have come to realize that when facing challenges that it was not my struggles that defined me, but the ways in which I overcame them that mattered.



One thought on “Kendell Byrd – Computer Science Student”

  1. What an inspiring story Kendell! I’m sure a lot of young girls will look up to you after reading about you. You have a bright future ahead of you, and we applaud you for being a positive role model to the younger generation.

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