“Think big and think different. Dare to dream big. I want you to be global change agents,” Betty Gronneberg, North Dakota State computer science alumna, said as she shared her story about her time as a Bison to future graduates.
Her talk, “Software Engineer Turned Social Entrepreneur: Lessons from an NDSU Grad,” was aimed toward students majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
“You didn’t wake up today to be mediocre,” Gronneberg said. “Life after graduation starts before graduation.”
Gronneberg earned her master’s degree at NDSU and was selected to the Bush Foundation Leadership Fellow program while here on campus. Later, she founded a non-profit organization called UCodeGirl that empowers young girls to pursue technology careers.
“We want to build confidence, build skills and build a pathway to technology careers for girls,” Gronneberg said.
Gronneberg was a part of a pilot computer science program at a small university in Ethiopia. Through this process she said she had to learn the hard way that she needed to find a mentor, be experimental and build a strong network.
“Back in my day, one gigabyte was a large deal, but now you can go to the store and buy a storage device with 10 terabytes,” Gronneberg said. “To put that into perspective, 1 terabyte is the equivalent of the contents of the Library of Congress.”
Gronneberg then spoke on a mentorship program called Crack the Code. This program provides role models for young girls interested in technology. If you are a woman in the STEM field, Gronneberg is looking for volunteers to help with the program. There will be other programs coming up from the organization that could use male volunteers as well.
A social reception for STEM students, faculty and staff followed the meeting to continue the conversation.