You can be the hero
You can get the gold
Breaking all the records they thought never could be broke
Yeah, do it for your people
Do it for your pride
How are you ever gonna know if you never even try?
Do it for your country
Do it for your name
‘Cause there’s gonna be a day…
When you’re standing in the hall of fame
– Philophers: The Script ft. will.i.am
Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
Hi there! My name is Kyla and I am a freshman at Deerfield High School. Thank you so much for reading about me, I hope this makes you smile, adds a little pep to your day, or inspires you to go at your dreams.
Ever since I was a young girl, I have always dreamed of being an influential figure in STEM and inspiring others to do the same. I am an advocate for STEAM, an engineer on the Deerfield Robotics Team, a Girl’s Golf Athlete, and a member of my school’s chorus. I love volunteering, participating in hackathons, and if you spot me anywhere- I’m probably with my laptop- maybe making an app, or programming. One thing’s for sure: I’d still be laughing at some joke that was said probably 10 minutes ago 😛
I began my journey in technology as a young child, loving math, science, and everything in between. I began taking summer classes at Northwestern University and researching in my free time about technology and its applications. Last summer, I was selected to attend the NSA GenCyber Camp at Purdue University, where I studied digital forensics and about malicious software on devices. From here, I have continued my adventure in tech, as I pursued combining my newfound passion, cybersecurity, with my volunteerism spirit.
Fun Fact: After a lot of thinking, planning, and believing, in early freshman year, I became the founder of Bits N’ Bytes Cybersecurity. My goal was to educate and equip elementary and middle school students, as well as senior home elders, with the online safety skills needed to face the technology of tomorrow. I have produced short-films for schools, held event nights, and spoke to faculty, students, and parents, answering questions and speaking of my cyber-experiences as a high-school student.
For my students, I became known as “Detective Safety,” my cartoon animated character! Bits N’ Bytes also crafts and writes weekly cybersecurity lessons on our blog (www.bitsnbytes.us.com) and post daily tips and updates on Twitter, where I have gained 253 (and counting!) followers in the past 3 months! (@GuruDetective) This has been a phenomenal experience of leadership, mentorship, and I truly cannot wait to see how many more school districts my project impacts! Although all of it is exciting, my favorite part of what I do is meeting all the new parents, faculty members, and students. I love interacting with people and spreading my message to families everywhere.
What # would define your life journey?
Be fearless, ask what you can do to change the world, and don’t ever think twice about pursuing your goals.
Favorite website / app / tech tool:
I am constantly amazed by all the applications of Virtual Reality and got to try “Oculus” recently in the Silicon Valley. There’s a certain magic to being transported to another world to learn and engage yourself outside of a formal classroom. After some intent Googling and researching, I blogged about the uses of VR in fields such as disaster training, medicine, athletics, architecture, and of course, education.
Drones! I have always loved seeing the different, new, applications of drones in industry, for public safety, and to save lives (social good). After all, gizmos that impact lives positively are the best kinds! I recently got my first drone and am on the edge of my seat learning new skills and testing out all the cool tricks.
Additionally, I love creating “hacks” to tech, and one of the coolest gadgets I have used so far is the Amazon Alexa, which I added a skill that allows a user to receive personalized volunteer opportunities for the area they live in and the date/time they are asking. The opportunity is then added to their calendar just by asking Alexa, “What can I do to give back today?”
In terms of apps, I love Flipboard, my personalized source of news based on my interests, and I could probably not survive without my reminder & calendar app (as an organizing fanatic!)
Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
Bill and Melinda Gates have always been my inspiring figures in the technology field. While Microsoft innovations blossomed, these two figureheads were grounded and always kept in mind philanthropy. This embodies one of my goals, to always “give back when I get,” while also creating break-through innovations in the tech field.
I have always looked up to Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas since I was a little girl. The way she gracefully never took her eye of her goal and was headstrong in making the sacrifices she needed to get there inspired me to do the same. Gabby always held her family’s support close to her, which allowed her to adapt to difficult situations. I’ll be honest seeing her get the all-around goal and reading her book was the most heart-warming feeling.
The 30 She++ fellows I met this year from around the nation. My days spent getting to know these amazing individuals in the Silicon Valley taught me the power of passion and that there is always more you can do to contribute. They are an inspiration and I have learned so much about myself and my goals by being around their vibrant personalities. Also, the NCWIT Community are such inspirational figures and motivate me to make a difference.
Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
I used to be very involved in Spelling Bees, winning my elementary and middle school spelling bee 5 years in a row and advancing from school, through sectionals, all the way to the regional bee (one step before Nationals). I practiced for months on hand, hours spent studying roots and words from the dictionary, and on the day of the bee- one letter wrong and that was it. I had the decision to do it every year I was eligible, yet I stuck with the “road less traveled by,” and “that has made all the difference.”
I saw and felt competitiveness at it’s most stressful peak and saw how the reaction to this stress was the most important piece. “Keeping your composure” seemed hard, but it was the only thing I could do. I had to remind myself that I was doing what I loved and that the feeling of winning would explain all the work. Making this a part of my life story taught me a lot about my work ethic, even if it was for a newfound competition that I saw through grade-school. It taught me how to act under pressure- and how amazing it feels to succeed. If I hadn’t tried or had the courage to risk all the studying for competition, I wouldn’t have experienced the whole spelling bee package deluxe experience.
Uncovering the intersection of big data and cybersecurity.
My goal is to work on the front lines to defend the security of our computers. I imagine myself exploring the fascinating field of cybersecurity combined with data and creative problem solving to ensure that the changes technology inspires in our world are never negative. I would also like to work collaboratively with a team in a workplace bustling with initiative, intuition, and zest. I would also love to be able to extract information from large data sets through visualizations. The greatest satisfaction would be in finding answers through the flavorful “pudding” and getting to implement this and improve my work. Ultimately, my goal is to work to defend systems and know how to respond swiftly and efficiently to the cyberattacks on infrastructure.
I’ve always been fascinated by jobs that keep you thinking, racing back and forth, and busy 24/7 between buildings and meetings:)
I’m on the edge of my seat to see where this journey will take me, but one is for certain: I love working hands-on, pondering innovative solutions, and aspire to be a gregarious, fearless go-getter.
What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Do something, little or big, every single day to work towards your long term goal.
Be fearless, be vibrant, be the one to go up and shake hands with someone new. Set short-term goals and don’t rest until they are finished (of course, some coffee will help with this 😛 ). Don’t be afraid to get help, to grow, to lead, to inspire, to do anything really:) Fear holds us back A LOT and sometimes, we need to learn to just let go and fly!
Life starts now!