Senior computer science (CS) major, Honors College student, and aspiring software engineer Kelly Glebus was surprised by how few women were among her peers. Once Glebus reached higher-level CS classes, she says it wasn’t uncommon for her to be one of four or five women in a class of 30 to 40 students.
When she was a junior in high school, she enrolled in a pre-AP computer programming class as an elective. While the class wasn’t her first choice, she quickly developed an interest in programming and learned that she was adept at problem-solving.
“On the first day and my teacher got out these huge pieces of butcher paper and had us create these “thread” conversations on them,” says Glebus. “We were answering questions like ‘What jobs are we going to lose to computer automation?’, ‘What are ways that computers make our lives easier,’ and things like that. I thought that it was a very interesting way to begin a class, so I stayed in it.”
Her interest in programming did not go unnoticed by her teacher. Glebus says “he encouraged me to continue (and gave me all the extra work I asked for), and I decided that I was going to college for computer science. He really changed my life, and I’m very grateful for him. We’re still in touch today!”
Since then, Glebus has developed into a young professional. She interned at Forward Integration Technologies as a junior software developer, where she worked with Angular and Python to do full-stack web app development. She is currently a cybersecurity intern at Colvin Run Networks doing user interface design amongst other projects.
Some more notable achievements Glebus is proud of was being “a part of the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates held at George Mason University in 2018, where I did some research with wearable technologies. I’m also currently a class facilitator for CS395: Student-Initiated Class Introduction into the Internet of Things.”
Given her passion for the field, Glebus encourages other women to try computing. She praised George Mason University's Department of Computer Science for being inclusive towards all students.
“I think a lot of super qualified women feel intimidated either by the subject or even by the male-dominated environment,” says Glebus. “Like I said before, computer science is hard, there are classes that you couldn’t pay me to retake, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. I wish more women would take the leap and try it; I think they’d find that they’re really good at it. Like I did.”
On March 3, Mason announced a new initiative, Break Through Tech, that aims to propel more students who identify as women and non-binary into tech education—and ultimately tech careers—through curriculum innovation, career access, and community building. The goal of the grant is to increase the number of these students graduating with a tech degree at Mason by 12.5 percent by 2026.
For more information about Break Through Tech at Mason, visit this site.