From CTRS to Programmer

Hi, I’m Amelia!

Originally from Michigan, I ended up moving to Denver for four years to finish my undergraduate degree. A few months ago I just moved back to the mitten state! My first loves include skiing, hiking, yoga, and anime.

I could have never imagined myself getting into computer programming. I didn’t even know this career existed until a few years ago! Prior to Flatirons, I was working in health and human services as a CTRS (Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist). I worked primarily with adults with physical, social, or intellectual disabilities. I focused on improving one’s quality of life through recreation.

While working in these mental health communities and hospitals, I noticed all the assistive technology being used and how it drastically changed the lives of the patients. Clients used various apps to communicate if they could not verbally speak, they used wheelchairs for mobility, and different apps in their therapy sessions. Parents, caretakers, therapists, and clients themselves were always frustrated with how expensive the software and/or apps were themselves. These are technology devices that are vital for our community to get better and to perform their activities of daily living. If these were not an accessible resource then it would not be possible for improvement. One communication app can cost up to $800, that is a lot of money, especially if a family has a lower-income or has other children and needs. If a child is not able to communicate via speaking or sign language, how were they going to express themselves? Accessibility has always been extremely important to me. Not everyone is able-bodied and has access to basic resources. I discussed this frustration with some friends who are developers. They simply said “Amelia, this is something you can change!”. This opened up the conversation about software engineering and the many problems coding can solve!

I went home that evening and looked up every coding boot-camp possible and came across Flatirons. I went to a free Flatiron intro-to-coding workshop held in Denver (pre-covid) and totally fell in love!

Prior to coding, I didn’t really feel like I could solve any issues at work. It felt like I was keeping my head above water and so were my clients. Software engineering has sparked my interest because I feel I have found an area where I can combine my passion for accessibility and problem-solving.