In January 2020, the Ed Farm interviewed numerous candidates for its first Pathways cohort — one of the 20 learners who was selected for the course was Teresa H. Thomas. For the past three months, Teresa has illustrated a growth mindset and a commitment to learning that has inspired our team and her fellow cohort members. As we wrap up the first official Pathways cohort, we want to take a moment to share Teresa’s story and highlight some of her reflections on the learning experience.
Teresa’s been married for 15 years and is a mom of four. She’s also a business owner, specializing in human resources. “I deal with workforce development and human resource consulting with small to mid-sized companies, and I am very active in the education system,” said Teresa. Through her day-to-day work and involvement with Birmingham City Schools, she learned about and decided to pursue the Pathways program.
“Last year, I was looking for innovative ways to increase my services for my clients, and technology was just one of the things that I kept coming back to — I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I kept running into a number of clients who would have computer science degrees, but they couldn’t always bridge the knowledge gap with others. I felt a burden to try to bridge that gap through getting in the trenches and learning things myself,” said Teresa.
“I am also the president of the Title I Parent Leadership Council with Birmingham City Schools, and I received an email [about Pathways] and was asked to push it out to other parents,” said Teresa. After, sending it out, she said, “Wow I want to apply for this program — it sounds like the answer to one of my problems.”
Teresa jumped right into Pathways and quickly became an active member of the cohort. Within the first two weeks of the program, she was getting hands-on with variables, constants, and strings. At the same time, she was attending UAB’s Entrepreneurship Academy every Wednesday night at Ed Farm. It was clear that Teresa was ready to build new digital skills and connect with entrepreneurs from the Greater Birmingham area.
When reflecting on her learning experience, Teresa highlighted the value of problem solving skills throughout the App Development with Swift curriculum and the CSMlearn modules. “The level of problem solving and analyzing was like a light bulb,” said Teresa. She then offered an example of how a software developer at a bank may need to understand formulas for calculating interest rates and the functions necessary to develop an app using those formulas. She also noted that it’s necessary for developers to be able to “translate” this information to other team members, which illuminates the importance of essential skills. Nearly everything Teresa shared is reinforced by the recent Power of Transportable Skills report from Burning Glass Technologies and Project Lead the Way.
When asked what surprised her about Pathways, she offered a powerful message: “I would say the biggest thing that surprised me is the coding piece… realizing I can actually code.” Teresa noted that, “I’ve always thought of coders as a whole different type of personality and person — like, this person was born for this. But, anyone can do it. It’s something that is attainable.”
“I’ve always thought of coders as a whole different type of personality and person — like, this person was born for this. But, anyone can do it. It’s something that is attainable.” – Teresa H. Thomas, Pathways Cohort One
Moving forward, Teresa plans to attain the App Development with Swift Certificate and participate in Sigao Studios’ Licensed Scrum Master/Licensed Product Owner bootcamp (learn more here). She also wants to get more involved with Pathways moving forward and offer mentorship to future learners.
When asked to describe her experience in one word or phrase, she offered “light bulb!”
We look forward to following Teresa on her journey and sharing her story with our collaborators, friends, and supporters every step of the way.
Learn more about Pathways and apply for the next cohort here.