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    “I firmly believe you can’t be what you can’t see.”


    “Bluebell is in a disadvantaged area, and when I have kids come in from similar areas, I always tell them where I’m from. And they’re like, ‘No, you’re not!’” she says. “Because to them, seeing someone from Bluebell working at Microsoft is a big deal. And I just hope that they think, ‘If she works here, I can work here.’”

    After a recent class, a student thanked Amanda and told her that she’d only seen men code before. The chance to code alongside other girls was something she’d never imagined.

    “That was a ‘whoa’ moment for me.” Amanda pauses and then sighs with disappointment. “Of course, I know the statistics about women in the tech industry. But to actually have a student say that made the reality and the impact so much more real.”

    In the next year, Amanda hopes to reach more students through DreamSpace by traveling to rural areas, training more teachers, and even creating mini-DreamSpace environments at schools—colorful and comfortable corners within classrooms where students can learn together.A woman laughs while two younger women look at a computer screen and point. They are having fun learning.

    “I firmly believe you can’t be what you can’t see,” Amanda says.

    “I want to show students that it doesn’t matter where you live. It’s doesn’t matter what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter what your parents do. You can do this; it’s possible for you.”

    *****

    Back at Colaiste Pobail Setanta, Amanda hugs her former coworkers good-bye and heads out of her old science lab. As her hand swipes an empty student desk, she thinks lovingly about the past. She loves what she does now—growing her own skills in new ways—but she’ll always remember where she came from.

    Making her way to the exit, Amanda walks past the front office receptionist—a new employee who didn’t work there when Amanda was a teacher at the school.

    “Hello, I’m Amanda. I used to teach here.”

    “Hmm. What do you do now?” the receptionist asks, assuming Amanda has left the vocation as well as the school.

    “Oh, I still teach,” she says, her face lighting up with pride. “But now, I’m a teacher at Microsoft.”

    *****



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