Right now, we're in the middle of the Hack the Hood Community Giving Challenge, and this week, we're reflecting on what "Community" really means. We sat down with Monikka de la Zerda, one of our amazing volunteers to hear her thoughts about why she got involved and what community means to her.
Monikka has supported every program we've put on over the past two years! Monikka jumps in for any role, from our mentorship pilot and job readiness tutoring during Bootcamp, to coding tutoring with Tech Prep Coding. She is a software engineer who grew up in the Bay Area and lives in East Oakland. We are incredibly grateful to have her as a part of the Hack the Hood Community. Here's what she had to say:
Would you mind sharing a little about yourself?
I am a software engineer from the Bay Area and am currently living in East Oakland. I’ve been working in the clean tech energy space for several years and I’m currently VP of Software Development for UniGen Resources as well as the co-founder of a software consultancy called Shypwright. I have spent the past few years volunteering with various non-profit organizations aimed at diversifying the tech industry.
You've had a bit of an inside perspective on Hack the Hood. What is it about the organization, the work we do, or the youth/small business community we serve that is most compelling to you?
I love the work that Hack the Hood does because it is empowering our local youth with the skills they need to uplift their own communities as well as themselves. The opportunity to work in tech or build the next great company should not be isolated to only those who can afford fancy bootcamps or schools. As someone who had an alternative path into the industry and is mostly self-taught, I know how hard it can be to break into this field and how intimidating learning to code can be. I love seeing how Hack the Hood breaks down these barriers and how inspired and driven the students are.
Why do you think it's important to volunteer your time at Hack the Hood?
It's important for me to volunteer with Hack the Hood because as a Bay Area native, I have seen first hand how the influx of technology has displaced and uprooted our communities. I believe that tech companies should be actively working towards repairing some of the damage that has been done here and that we all have a responsibility to give back and do what we can to steer this industry in the right direction. Displacement and the lack of diversity in tech are huge problems that need to be tackled from all angles by everyone involved; we need to empower ourselves and our local communities as well as encourage companies to think differently about who they hire.
What does "Community" mean to you?
Community for me is about people coming together for the good of one another. Our neighbors, our friends, these are all micro-communities of people who care in some way about and for each other. Working with Hack the Hood makes me not only feel more tied to my own neighborhood community, but is a community in itself of people coming together to try empower our local youth with opportunity and drive this industry towards positive change. I’m thankful to be a part of both.
Join the wonderful community of supporters that makes Hack the Hood's work possible.
Hack the Hood Blog
News items and musings on tech inclusion, youth development, buying local and more.