Course Report Spotlight: Q&A with Hackbright Alumna Marisha Schumacher-Hodge

Marisha Schumacher-Hodge, Software Engineer, Ellie Mae

Recently, Hackbright alumna Marisha Schumacher-Hodge sat down with Course Report, one of the top online resources for prospective students considering intensive bootcamp programs, for their Alumni Spotlight.  Marisha shares how her love for collegiate and professional soccer led to her passion for coding — eventually landing her a software engineering job at Ellie Mae.

Below are some excerpts from their discussion.  Visit Course Report to read the interview in its entirety.

What made you passionate about coding?
When I was an athlete, I felt like I was challenged every day, like I was problem solving and being creative, in a different realm. Aside from playing soccer, I had never really felt that same kind of passion or challenge in a job.

Did you research other coding bootcamps or did you have your heart set on Hackbright Academy?
My goal was to find a bootcamp that focused on diversity, by bringing underrepresented minority or gender groups into the tech space. After doing research and talking to alumni, I decided on Hackbright. After experiencing an all-women team environment during my soccer career, I realized in many cases that type of environment can automatically make some people feel more comfortable. They can achieve more because they are part of a team, supporting each other rather than competing with each other, which makes learning something completely new a little bit easier. I knew that I’d have a big network after graduating from Hackbright, which would probably help me land my first and second job, and be able to create lifelong connections with women on a similar path.

I knew that I’d have a big network after graduating from Hackbright, which would probably help me land my first and second job, and be able to create lifelong connections with women on a similar path."

What advice do you have for people making a career change through a coding bootcamp?
Make an effort to really understand the industry you’re getting into. It’s the hot thing right now to be in tech, and it’s definitely a big part of the future. But you have to try it out, build something, and work out, “Do I really like this? Do I want to be doing this all day every day?” There are people who know they do and are really passionate about it. Before switching careers and deciding, “This sounds so great,” do your due diligence.

Click here to read the full Course Report interview.

Hackbright Academy is the leading engineering school for women in San Francisco dedicated to closing the gender gap in the tech industry.  Learn more about Hackbright’s 12-week software engineering program Marisha completed.

10 Black Female Leaders in Tech to Watch

WilliamWilliam Hill is a Software Engineer at Lawrence Livermore Lab and former Senior Instructor of Hackbright Academy’s part-time Intro to Programming night course. He developed a passion for teaching while earning his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Computer Science from Mississippi State University.  He has a drive for increasing diversity in tech and has volunteered with Black Girls Code, the Hidden Genius Project and is a member of /dev/color. When he isn’t churning out code, he enjoys playing basketball, strength training, and playing video games. Follow him on twitter at @emjay_hill.

“I’m no longer accepting the things I cannot change…I’m changing the things I cannot accept.”

Despite becoming one of the most educated segments of the population in the past decade, black women continue to be woefully underrepresented in the tech industry. According to recent reports by NCWIT, black women only hold 3% of computing jobs . The problem is not being ignored, though. Organizations such as Black Girls ROCK! and Black Girls Code are doing tremendous work in exposing black girls to coding to strengthen the pipeline. Industry professionals have gotten in on the act as well by using their energy and expertise to create opportunities for younger generations. Here we highlight 10 dynamic black women who are making an impact on their company and community!

Sheena Allen


Sheena Allen Headshot

Sheena Allen is a founder and CEO at Sheena Allen Apps and InstaFunds. She earned her B.A. in Film and B.S. in Psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi. Sheena Allen has grown her app company, Sheena Allen Apps, to have millions of downloads and is featured in She Started It, a documentary that focuses on 5 women working on their startups . She has successfully completed an internship program back in her home state of Mississippi for local college students and often speaks to minorities about the possibilities in the tech industry.

Follow her on Twitter at @whoisSheena.

Jasmine Bowers


Jasmine Bowers

Jasmine Bowers is a PhD student at the University of Florida. She earned her B.S. degrees in mathematics and computer science from Fort Valley State University and an M.S. in computer science from North Carolina A&T State University.

Over the last year, Jasmine was named a GEM Fellowship scholar and a Committee of 200 scholar finalist.

Over the years, she has worked with several community organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. Recently, she served as a guest speaker at the InTech one-day tech camp for girls. In addition to her interests in computer science and cyber security, she also has a passion for financial education. After graduating, she visited her alma mater FVSU to teach students about budgeting during their annual iLead Leadership Conference.

Follow her on Twitter at @JasmineDBowers.

Khalia Braswell

 N7wWGrdcKhalia Braswell is a User Experience Designer at Apple, Inc. She earned her B.S. in Computer Science from North Carolina State, and her M.S. in Human Computer Interaction from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Last year, Khalia had the chance to attend The White House’s first annual Computer Science Tech Jam to kick off Computer Science Education Week. She was afforded this opportunity, in part, because of her non-profit INTech, whose mission is to inform and inspire girls to innovate in the technology industry.

Follow her on Twitter at @KhaliaBraswell.

Dr. Jamika Burge



Dr. Jamika Burge owns a startup, Design and Technology Concepts, that specializes in computer science design and education, where she has worked with Google and the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) to develop strategies for technical inclusion. She is also the new Senior Manager for Research Curriculum and Outreach at Capital One. She earned her PhD in Computer Science from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where she won an IBM Research Fellowship.

Jamika has worked across multiple sectors, from IBM Research to Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), and she is active in computer science education and STEM preparedness efforts, providing expertise for a host of funded programs funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Computing Research Association (CRA).  

Follow her on Twitter at @JDBurge.

Lauren Frazier


Lauren Frazier

Lauren Frazier is a Software Engineer at Google. She earned both her B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Pennsylvania. have been a professional iOS developer since graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012. Lauren was the lead engineer on Google Wallet for iOS before moving to the Android Wear team. She is a member of /dev/color and a tutor with the Second Start Adult Literacy Program in Oakland. She was recently featured in Techies, a photo project focused on sharing stories of tech employees in Silicon Valley.

Follow her on Twitter at @laurenfraz.

Hadiyah Mujhid



Hadiyah Mujhid is the founder and developer at Playpen Labs, a software and design company. She earned her B.S. in Computer Science from University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Hadiyah has fifteen years experience working as a software engineer. Her experience spans from working with government agencies to launch satellites into orbit, to more recently helping startups to launch web products. In addition to being an engineer, she’s an advocate for underrepresented groups working in tech. She created a non-profit called Black Founders to increase the number of black tech entrepreneurs. She’s also the founder of HBCU to Startup, which serves as a bridge for students and alumni from historically black colleges interested in working in tech.

Follow Hadiyah on Twitter at @hadiyahdotme.

Tiffany Price


Tiffany PriceTiffany Price is the Community Engagement Manager at the Kapor Center for Social Impact. She earned her B.A. in Chemistry and International Studies from Emory University and an M.A. in International Comparative Education from Stanford University.  She also graduated from Actualize, a Ruby on Rails web development bootcamp.  Tiffany serves on the advisory board of /dev/color, a network for black software engineers, and is a mentor for STEMinist, a new data science program for underrepresented women at UC Berkeley.

Follow her at @thoodprice.

Mandela Schumacher-Hodge


Mandela Schumacher-Hodge

Mandela Schumacher-Hodge is the Founding Portfolio Services Director at Kapor Capital. She co-launched the first ever VC-backed diversity pledge, called the Founders’ Commitment. In less than one year, 84 Kapor Capital portfolio companies signed on. Mandela works with diversity and inclusion expert and Kapor Capital Partner, Dr. Freada Kapor Klein, to develop custom workshops and resources to help these companies fulfill their commitment to build diverse teams and inclusive workplaces. Mandela earned her B.A. in Intercultural Communication, with a minor in Spanish, from Pepperdine and her M.A. in Education, Administration & Policy from Loyola Marymount University. In 2014, Mandela’s name graced the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Education list, in 2015 Mandela gave her first TEDx speech, and in 2016, Mandela was named to the Case Foundation’s Top 50 Inclusive Entrepreneurship Champions list, The Registry’s 40 Under 40 Tech Diversity: Silicon Valley list, and LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Venture Capital and EntrepreneurshipShe’s the author of three Top 20 Medium Posts, and My White Boss Talked About Race in America, This is What Happened, a piece that went viral and has been featured in Medium, LinkedIn, Huffington Post, and Black Enterprise magazine.

Follow Mandela on Twitter @MandelaSH.

Kamilah Taylor


Screen Shot 2016-10-24 at 12.56.41 PM

Kamilah Taylor is a Senior Software Engineer at LinkedIn. She earned her M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and her B.S. in both Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus (in Jamaica).

While at LinkedIn she’s worked on multiple project launches, most recently the new LinkedIn Learning app, an online learning platform. Other projects include the complete rewrite and redesign of LinkedIn’s flagship app, messaging, mobile accessibility and infrastructure. Previously she did robotics at Wolfram Research and in graduate school at UIUC. Kamilah is a co-author of the recently released “Women in Tech: Take Your Career to the Next Level with Practical Advice and Inspiring Stories”, and is helping to organize the inaugural Tech Beach Retreat in Jamaica. She volunteers for many organizations aimed at encouraging more women and people of color to choose STEM as a career field, including Black Girls Code, Technovation, MEDA, and the Palisadoes Foundation.

Follow Kamilah on twitter at @kamilah.

Rachel Walker


Rachel Walker is an engineer at Chalk Schools. She earned her B.S. in Computer Science from Illinois Institute of Technology. Rachel helped build out the part-time educational program at Hackbright Academy that served over 100 students and recently made her first open-source contribution. She is regional director for Lesbians Who Tech East Bay and regularly volunteers at hackathons for local youth.

Follow her on Twitter at  @Raychatter.

Hackbright Academy is the leading engineering school for women in San Francisco dedicated to closing the gender gap in the tech industry offering 12-week software engineering programs and night courses for women. 

Ada Lovelace’s Lesson For Women

Sharon Wienbar joined Hackbright Academy, the leading engineering school for women, as CEO in November of 2015. With a bachelor’s and master’s degree in engineering from Harvard and an MBA from Stanford, Sharon had served mostly on tech boards of directors for over a decade — until she met with Hackbright co-founder David J. Phillips to discuss an article she was working on about women in engineering. Several hours of mind-melding later, Sharon realized she wanted to be a hands-on leader at Hackbright. Phillips traded up to chairman and gave her the CEO seat.

Sharon fervently believes in changing the ratio of women in software engineering. Not by quotas, by demand, or by shaming, but by giving capable, motivated women the environment and training they need, and working with the best tech companies to hire them into the industry.


An engraving of Ada at age 4.

Augusta Ada King-Noel, Countess of Lovelace was an exceptional woman who, for her time, was also lucky. In her era, people learned from tutors and mentors. Only a tiny percentage of the population went through formal schooling. Only the highest upper-class people had access to extensive education.

Ada was lucky in that she was born into a keenly intellectual family, one that cultivated her interest in many very different fields. The daughter of a poet, she was deeply interested in mathematics. She was encouraged to flourish in both.

A supportive environment

This combination of poetry and mathematics enabled Ada to have the insight that her dear friend Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine could perform calculations on things that were not just numbers. She postulated that it could operate on musical notes.

Ada Lovelace, age 20

Portrait of Ada at age 20.

What’s different today is that most people, at least in the United States, have access to education as a fundamental human right. We’re also seeing much more of an infusion of computer science concepts into the curriculum at an early age.

But I wish people would also understand the creative aspect of programming. Ada was fascinated with flight, and in the spirit of Leonardo da Vinci devoted serious time at age 12 to designing a pair of steam-powered wings, documenting and illustrating her findings in a guide called “Flyology.” Today, when we evaluate Hackbright Academy applicants, what signals “she’s one of us” is that she’s likewise a maker. That means having a vision for something you want to make, and following the creative process to realize that vision. Even if you can’t’ quite fly, you’ve created a pair of wings.

The desire to create

Charles Babbage's Difference Engine, built 1991 London Science Museum

Ada’s algorithm was used for Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine, a design on paper which was finally built in 1991.

I discovered that the creative drive isn’t in everyone years ago at Adobe, when I participated in a focus group to understand why our Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop did so well among Apple Mac users, but never gained any market share on the PC. We asked our Mac users, professional designers, “When is a project done?” They answered, “I have a vision in my mind’s eye. It’s done when it matches that.” The designers who used PCs looked at us like we were idiots: “When is a project done? It’s done at the deadline!”

I saw that there are creative people who are professionals, and there are professionals who begrudgingly have to be creative.


This is it: The first machine algorithm on record. Ada’s 1842 description of a method for generating Bernoulli numbers with Babbage’s machine, which had yet to be built.

Programming is unquestionably creative work.Programming is unquestionably creative work. Today, creativity is often cultivated in girls, but it isn’t always presented as something that can be expressed in code. Let’s understand that knitting, sewing, gardening, and programming are more alike than they imagine.  But my daughter, a liberal-arts major, once explained to me why she was taking a computer science class: “It’s a life skill, like baking.” With software spreading into every aspect of our lives, knowing how code works is like knowing how your meal was made, and can be just as enjoyable to do yourself.

Perhaps the gender gap in software engineers is because programming isn’t currently seen as collaborative work, the way it was 75 years ago at Bletchley Park. There, where everyone worked together to program giant vacuum tube-driven computers and decipher encrypted messages, over two-thirds of the programmers were women.

Sharon Wienbar

Hackbright Academy CEO Sharon Wienbar

The personal computer explosion of the 1980s recast programming as a solo effort, which attracted a predominantly male culture. But today distributed apps, Web apps, and agile development have made software development much more of a group activity again. A promising software engineer needn’t be a guy in sweats in a basement, whose only friend is his Xbox.

We can take advantage of our new collaborative environments to foster coding creativity in women, just as Ada’s environment supported her to craft the world’s first known computational algorithm. In doing so, Ada Lovelace started us off with an important lesson: Code is for women, too. We don’t have to pinkify it. We shouldn’t.

In this video interview, Sharon expands on why she joined Hackbright, and what she believes should be done to #changetheratio of women in software engineering.

Interested in learning more about Hackbright Academy? Join us for an Information Session to learn about our 12-week software engineering fellowship for women tomorrow, October 12th. Attend in person or remotely via livestream.