Olympia LaRose | Student of the Month

Olympia LaRose is another Per Scholas graduate who will go down in history. She is the first graduate to be hired at global financial firm PIMCO, a rising star of a corporate partner who has supported Per Scholas for the past two years on many levels. Olympia, being a graduate of our Women in Tech program, feels her success is an inspiration to other young women of color to pursue careers in technology, a movement gaining much attention in the industry.

“The very woman who loves Saks Avenue and six-inch heels is quite capable of climbing ladders and using screwdrivers, with more creativity. I endeavor to overcome historical barriers–one stiletto at a time.”

Olympia loves the challenge of being a woman in technology, a field where only 25% of the workforce is female. “I feel my male counterparts may look at me and think I have a limit to what I can do, and that only motivates me to work three times harder to knock down these stereotypes and barriers facing women in this industry.”

Olympia is from Guyana, a country where computers are sparse — only one in 50 people had access when she lived there. She credits her grandmother for introducing her to technology when she sent Olympia to a typing class in her town. “Seeing a room full of computers was like the equivalent of seeing a brand new Corvette. I couldn’t wait to touch it.” This exposure had a permanent impact and the rest was history.

In her teens, her family moved to New York City where she completed her education in technology. She helped out a great deal with her church setting up computers, the networks, and even a website. Her new life motto became “Jesus and mother boards.” Despite these accomplishments, however, she still felt stuck, unfulfilled both professionally and intellectually. Then she found Per Scholas.

Enrolling primarily for the professional certifications offered (the CompTIA A+ and MCTS), Olympia couldn’t believe the level of education offered from a free program. “Per Scholas was the most amazing professional experience of my life. I was exposed to every aspect of IT, from cloud computing and peripheral connectivity to manipulating software and network devices,” adding that the hands-on experience surpassed what her bachelor’s degree in IT offered. “The experience stimulated my desire to further my IT knowledge and advance my skill set, which is irreplaceable.” Then there was the layer of being in a women’s only class, an environment vastly unrealistic compared to the IT industry as she had experienced it. “My most memorable experiences were our morning Tech Talks, where we talk about current industry trends whether it be Google or Intel at the start of class. Most of my classmates were new to IT and new to this type of social engagement, but eventually Tech Talks turned into the part of class we all eagerly awaited. It was our daily dose of caffeine.”

It is extra exciting that Olympia landed at PIMCO. The company has been an active corporate partner in volunteer engagements and generous funding, believers in our mission and students. They are thrilled to have her join the firm.

Olympia will pay this investment forward and looks forward to volunteering her time to share her story with other women and inspire them to follow her lead. “It is okay to be a minority of numbers, not qualifications. I allow my faith, my skills, values, character, and qualifications to define my path.”

We can’t wait to watch others follow Olympia’s path.

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