Mentor Monday: Meet Sarah

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Meet long-time Bold Idea mentor Sarah Sahibzada, a software consultant at Pariveda Solutions. For the past two years, Sarah has served as a mentor at our program site in east Dallas, helping students ages 8 - 18 build confidence in computer science. She is also a strong advocate for Bold Idea within her company, supporting volunteer recruitment and fundraising. We are lucky she’s on our team!

Meet Sarah…

What is something many people don't know about you?
My mom is my hero! She immigrated here from Peru, and she’s lived her whole life with the philosophy of giving back to her new home. She’s been a social worker, a special education teacher, and an assistant principal; she got her bachelors’ and masters’ degrees while my brother and I were growing up. She’s always told me to lead by example, in both words and actions – regardless of what others might have to say, she holds her head high and continues to do the right thing.

How did you become interested in technology and programming?
It all started with Neopets! My nine-year-old self struggled through the process of “why doesn’t this work? Oh, I typed ‘tr’ when I meant ‘td’. ” long before I knew it would be useful for anything beyond making an obnoxiously bright pink and glitter-text-heavy page for my Neopet.

I am so thankful for this experience - long before technology was something I studied or how I made my living, it was just fun.

What did you study in college?
In undergrad, I double-majored in Mathematics and Computer Science at Texas A&M University.

In the fall, I will start graduate school (part-time/distance) studying Operations Management at The University of Arkansas.

What are you working on now?
I’m working on the product architecture and requirements for a construction progress-tracking mobile application for Oncor Electric Delivery, which is cool since they’re on my utility bill. In the past, I did full-stack web development for predecessor/foundation for this product.

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What have you gained from being a mentor? What was your most memorable moment while mentoring?
I’ve gained a deeper understanding of what it means to be a mentor. I got to talk to my company’s CEO, Bruce Ballengee, who was open about his successes and mistakes made as a mentor: in his words, the worst mistake you can make as a mentor is to make it about you rather than the other person. Throughout my time at Bold Idea, I’ve worked at transforming my mentorship from “teach people and help them to avoid making the same mistakes you’ve made” to “understand the needs and goals of each person and help them get there”.

My most memorable moment: in the Creative Computing class, when one team had a few disagreements about the direction they wanted to take their final project in, we walked through conflict resolution strategies. I worked with them and watched these two students come together and combine their ideas to create an awesome end product. It’s these skills - team building, collaboration, and compromise, that will help them become confident leaders in their fields later on, whether or not they decide to pursue technology.

Is there anything that you wish you could tell your younger self about coding?
You aren’t going to get it right the first time, or maybe even the tenth time, and that’s the whole point! It’s improvements to your process that result in the best possible end product, and you can only make those improvements if you keep at it until you figure it out.

What is it about Bold Idea's mission that really connects with you?
The idea of developing and empowering young minds. Everyone remembers what it was like to be a kid and have some people talk down to you and not take you seriously - I love that Bold Idea is about doing the opposite. I love that this organization is all about challenging the kids to do more by first mentoring them and showing them that you believe in them, then giving them the tools and guidance to learn for themselves. It’s that feeling of “I know that I can do this, and I have mentors who believe in me” that Bold Idea fosters, and that kind of confidence helps kids in every aspect of their life.

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