Lea Hawkins

Hometown: Indianapolis, IN 
College: Polytechnic Institute
Major: Web Programming & Design

I am taking active steps to finish my undergraduate degree in web development and working towards my masters degree through a program called Computer Graphics Technology 3+2. The program will last five years and will reward both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. Since I originate from a background of analyzing visual features of art and an interest on the technical components of computer programming, I see web development as a combination of both technology and art. Due to my interest in technology, art and valuing diverse perspectives, I seek to work with companies with similar values. Because I want to encounter more diverse perspectives, I will study abroad and teach web development in Poland.

I have been accepted into the Indianapolis University - Purdue University Institution Computer Graphics Technology study abroad for summer 2019 and will be heading over to Rzeszow and Poznan, Poland. From this study abroad, I will receive three credits for the globalization requirements for my degree. The main purpose of the study abroad is to bring together computer graphic students from the United States to teach a computer graphics class aimed for Polish students. The students in the program have been assigned a certain branch of computer graphics to instruct such as animation, 3D modeling and web programming. I have been assigned web programming and will discuss, assist, and provide computer demonstrations to Polish college students from May 9th to June 9th. I will start in Rzeszow to teach for half a month then continue my lectures in Poznan on the basics of web development for the rest of the month. An important task required by the study abroad program is to make sure the Polish students complete all the requirements for the class and have a basic understanding of computer graphics.

In preparation for teaching in this program, I have been actively working with Polish professor Agnieszka Piekarzewska and American professor Mark Bannatyne, both part of the computer graphics department. Through our communication, they have mentored me on teaching students and information for studying abroad in Poland. A few weeks before the start of the study abroad, the professors will provide me the material for the lectures. Once in Poland, I will continue to communicate with both professors by asking questions on how Poland and the United States differ on the approaches to teaching computer graphics.

During my master’s program, I will have the option to teach undergraduate courses. To prepare myself, I personally want to learn different students’ preferences on teaching and the best ways to simplify complicated topics within web development such as computer languages. This is why the teaching component in the study abroad program is valuable. Because I will be staying at my current university until I graduate from my program, going to a new environment will bring a chance to learn the same topic with a different viewpoint. I want to be able to master web development by researching how Poland’s computer graphics differ from the United States. Studying abroad to Poland provides global literacy by connecting with the local community and understanding Poland’s approach on teaching. Global literacy can allow students to process different cultures and environments when studying abroad. I can use this literacy to develop my designs on computer programming and digital art. As an advocate of global education and technology, this study abroad provides me the perfect opportunity to teach and learn more about web development.

Within the United States, there is a drastic gender gap within the STEM workforce due to the lack of education and development of STEM interest at a young age for women. Before financial and family responsibilities occurred, I was a member of the club Women in Technology where it promotes women to join the STEM field and informs students on the gender gap in the STEM field. My participation within this club has opened up my eyes on the statistics of women being in the STEM field and has driven me to push for gender equality in STEM. It is critical to inform women and men equally about these STEM jobs to create diverse views and create gender balance within the workforce. During my time in Poland, I will be capable of motivating young women and men to aim for gender diversity by conversing about how gender diversity provides more viewpoints for computer graphic designs and how it broadens the talent pool. Additionally, I want to reach out to the Polish women and understand how Poland perceives women in the STEM industry. I would like to know if the mentality of women in STEM fields differs in Poland and the United States.

Overall, my goals when studying abroad are to develop my methods of teaching, become globally literate by encountering different perspectives on web development and discuss about gender diversity in STEM fields with Polish students. The Gilman scholarship would assist on my advancement towards my goals of studying abroad. This study abroad will be worth the hard work because of how it will also assist me with my long-term goals of graduate school, becoming a web developer and working with top companies. With the combination of goals, this will improve my understanding of web development by teaching Polish Students.

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