Impact Stories: Shayna

Catapult reveals student’s true calling, then sets her up to get there

Shayna smiling at the camera while sitting at a desk with a laptop in front of herFor educators who think computer science courses are less vital than math or chemistry, 17-year-old Shayna B. has a frank warning: “Underfunding tech courses is one of the worst mistakes you can make. Preparing students for working with technology can make or break their future.”

This Shortridge High School senior’s future includes a career in information security analysis, also known as cybersecurity. But she wouldn’t have discovered the field or her interest in it without Nextech. Like so many schools in Indiana, hers didn’t offer many computer science courses.

“I knew I had an analytical brain. I felt like I’d be a really good doctor or nurse practitioner, then I thought about engineering, then maybe something related to building computers. But none of it was exactly right,” she said.

Nextech gave her answers.

“If I had been introduced to technology in sixth or seventh grade, I would not have struggled so much during my freshman year to figure out what I wanted to be and how to get there,” Shayna said. “We get just 4 years of high school and a limited number of opportunities to figure out our future. We need information sooner.”

English, math … and computer science!

Shayna doesn’t understand why every high school and college doesn’t consider computer science on par with other required courses, since tech will be part of nearly every job in the future.

“It’s crazy,” Shayna said. “If we don’t educate everyone about tech – men, women, minorities, immigrants – our progress as a nation is going to crash. As people come up with new technologies, others will come up with new ways to exploit them. You need to have people trained to support such a fast-growing industry.”

Cybersecurity is one of the most in-demand and underfilled jobs today, and the gap is projected to get worse. Yet, the computer science courses needed to expose students to this type of career are hard to come by in high schools and colleges in this state and almost every other.

Fortunately, when Shayna’s physics teacher read a brochure about Nextech’s immersive Catapult training, she recalled a conversation in which Shayna pined for more courses and opportunities in computer science.

“I’m really grateful she suggested I apply,” Shayna said. “I did it because I wanted to have a head start in my career. I wanted skills that would make me more marketable. I wanted to be able to take part in other learning opportunities before I went to college. Catapult did all that.”

‘I can’t think of anything more beneficial.’

Shayna presenting in front of the classCatapult put Shayna at a level of readiness for college she hadn’t anticipated.

“I’ve never had such a supportive, successful woman open up so many doors for me and give me that kind of encouragement as Jill from Nextech did,” Shayna said. “At the end, she told me she recognized my progress and how proud she was of me.”

Nextech doesn’t require any experience to enter Catapult because students gain the knowledge they need inside the program. But Shayna had been skeptical.

“I was so scared people wouldn’t think I deserved to be there,” she said. “On my first day, I was overwhelmed. I was with a majority of males, and I didn’t know anyone or anything the instructor, Matt, was talking about.”

As a Black female, Shayna said, she’s used to being in the minority and overcoming certain challenges related to who she is. But she didn’t face those obstacles at Catapult.

“There was no awkwardness. It was such a helping, collaborative space. We all bonded quickly and were effortlessly working as a team like we’d known each other for years,” she said. “Nextech built that experience and created an environment where they were actively encouraging us and giving us support.”

Besides in-class instruction and team projects, Catapult brings real tech leaders to students – and takes students to those leaders’ businesses to see tech in operation. Shayna raved about her visit to Salesforce, where she’d like to work one day.

“Nextech set me up with a really good mentor at Salesforce, a lead product security engineer, and now I’m networking with him. I wouldn’t have that connection without Catapult.”

All in all, Shayna credits Nextech with moving her much closer to her career goals.

“I can’t think of anything more beneficial. If I hadn’t been part of Catapult, the path to reach my goal would be much longer and harder than it is now,” she said. “Jill and Matt and everyone with Nextech brought together a bunch of mostly introverted teenagers like me in a way most summer programs can only dream of. We knew this was a place for us to learn and improve, and we thrived.”

Catapult reveals student’s true calling, then sets her up to get there

For educators who think computer science courses are less vital than math or chemistry, 17-year-old Shayna B. has a frank warning: “Underfunding tech courses is one of the worst mistakes you can make. Preparing students for working with technology can make or break their future.”

Shayna smiling at the camera while sitting at a desk with a laptop in front of her

This Shortridge High School senior’s future includes a career in information security analysis, also known as cybersecurity. But she wouldn’t have discovered the field or her interest in it without Nextech. Like so many schools in Indiana, hers didn’t offer many computer science courses.

“I knew I had an analytical brain. I felt like I’d be a really good doctor or nurse practitioner, then I thought about engineering, then maybe something related to building computers. But none of it was exactly right,” she said.

Nextech gave her answers.

“If I had been introduced to technology in sixth or seventh grade, I would not have struggled so much during my freshman year to figure out what I wanted to be and how to get there,” Shayna said. “We get just 4 years of high school and a limited number of opportunities to figure out our future. We need information sooner.”

English, math … and computer science!

Shayna doesn’t understand why every high school and college doesn’t consider computer science on par with other required courses, since tech will be part of nearly every job in the future.

“It’s crazy,” Shayna said. “If we don’t educate everyone about tech – men, women, minorities, immigrants – our progress as a nation is going to crash. As people come up with new technologies, others will come up with new ways to exploit them. You need to have people trained to support such a fast-growing industry.”

Cybersecurity is one of the most in-demand and underfilled jobs today, and the gap is projected to get worse. Yet, the computer science courses needed to expose students to this type of career are hard to come by in high schools and colleges in this state and almost every other.

Fortunately, when Shayna’s physics teacher read a brochure about Nextech’s immersive Catapult training, she recalled a conversation in which Shayna pined for more courses and opportunities in computer science.

“I’m really grateful she suggested I apply,” Shayna said. “I did it because I wanted to have a head start in my career. I wanted skills that would make me more marketable. I wanted to be able to take part in other learning opportunities before I went to college. Catapult did all that.”

‘I can’t think of anything more beneficial.’

Shayna presenting in front of the class

Catapult put Shayna at a level of readiness for college she hadn’t anticipated.

“I’ve never had such a supportive, successful woman open up so many doors for me and give me that kind of encouragement as Jill from Nextech did,” Shayna said. “At the end, she told me she recognized my progress and how proud she was of me.”

Nextech doesn’t require any experience to enter Catapult because students gain the knowledge they need inside the program. But Shayna had been skeptical.

“I was so scared people wouldn’t think I deserved to be there,” she said. “On my first day, I was overwhelmed. I was with a majority of males, and I didn’t know anyone or anything the instructor, Matt, was talking about.”

As a Black female, Shayna said, she’s used to being in the minority and overcoming certain challenges related to who she is. But she didn’t face those obstacles at Catapult.

“There was no awkwardness. It was such a helping, collaborative space. We all bonded quickly and were effortlessly working as a team like we’d known each other for years,” she said. “Nextech built that experience and created an environment where they were actively encouraging us and giving us support.”

Besides in-class instruction and team projects, Catapult brings real tech leaders to students – and takes students to those leaders’ businesses to see tech in operation. Shayna raved about her visit to Salesforce, where she’d like to work one day.

“Nextech set me up with a really good mentor at Salesforce, a lead product security engineer, and now I’m networking with him. I wouldn’t have that connection without Catapult.”

All in all, Shayna credits Nextech with moving her much closer to her career goals.

“I can’t think of anything more beneficial. If I hadn’t been part of Catapult, the path to reach my goal would be much longer and harder than it is now,” she said. “Jill and Matt and everyone with Nextech brought together a bunch of mostly introverted teenagers like me in a way most summer programs can only dream of. We knew this was a place for us to learn and improve, and we thrived.”

Fill out the short form below to receive our newsletter for updates and information on Nextech and our initiatives.

Thank You!

Thank you for signing up to receive monthly updates from Nextech.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@nextech) to join our conversations on computer science, coding, education and all things that fuel our passion.