Tache Johnson, a junior at Cheyney University, is just back from California where she spent a week learning all about Apple, one of the top technology companies in the world.
In May, she will be among those doing a 12-week internship at Apple. The Keystone Honors Academy Scholar is one of 34 students selected from more than 1,400 applicants nationwide to work at the technology innovator.
“Being able to meet the empowering innovative teams at Apple has been a life-changing experience,” said Johnson, whose trip to the West Coast was her first time there. “Everyone has been so nice, people have given me some wonderful advice, and I’ve really learned a lot. I’m super excited I got this.”
The math and computer science double major is scheduled to begin work in Cupertino, Calif., on May 15. She will reside in Apple’s corporate housing for interns, get paid well for her efforts and may even receive up to $25,000 in scholarship money for her senior year at Cheyney.
The West Philadelphia native will have an Apple mentor throughout her experience, receive an opportunity to develop key skills, enhance her resume and help launch her career through the hands-on experience.
This is the second year of an initiative that Apple launched in partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to provide opportunities in the tech industry for students and enhance engagement with faculty on HBCU campuses.
During her earlier visit to the Apple headquarters, Johnson learned “more about the company’s culture, ecosystem and community.”
“Tache has demonstrated tremendous initiative during her time at Cheyney University. She constantly seeks opportunities that will further enhance her experiences and skills, and she dedicates herself to taking something away from each of these opportunities,” said Tara Kent, associate provost at the school located outside Philadelphia.
“She is an exemplary student, who is committed to learning and growth,” she added. “We are all very proud of her.”
Apple paid for all of Johnson’s expenses during the recent Immersion Week and will do the same during the internship.
“I’m going to be the first in my family to graduate with a college degree. Cheyney has helped ease what would have been a big financial burden because I wasn’t sure how I would pay for school,” said Johnson, who picked the historic Black university because her 3.4 grade point average got her a full-ride, removing the burden of how she would pay for her higher education.
“Cheyney was most definitely the right choice for me and a good fit. The staff has been encouraging, they’ve provided guidance, and even nudged me to apply for opportunities when I might not have otherwise,” she added. “The classes are in a smaller setting so you are known as a name and not a number. A CU education gives you the tools you need to succeed and go forth to serve.”
According to Nicole Rayfield, director of student programs for Cheyney’s Honors Academy, Johnson was a shy freshman who stayed behind the scenes but really blossomed in her sophomore year.
“When she arrived on campus from the summer break, she immediately sought out help to create a strong resume, enhance her LinkedIn profile and attend as many professional development events as she could,” recalled Rayfield. “In working with her one-on-one, I saw her confidence increase and she began to seek out challenges and opportunities that she had previously dismissed.”
Johnson’s initiative and persistence paid off.
First, she became an ambassador for the TMCF and was selected to attend a three-day, all-expenses-paid entrepreneurial training and development conference, called Opportunity Funding Corporation. It brought 80 students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities together in Atlanta.
Her team placed second in a Hack-a-thon by building a phone app in two days that helps teach children math without giving the complete answer and allows them to learn from their mistakes.
A paid 10-week internship with the U.S. Department of Defense in Aberdeen, Md., followed, during which she worked alongside a physicist in the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate of the Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
That TMCF-sponsored internship could lead to a job with the DOD for the energetic Johnson once she graduates in May 2018.
“Many times I found myself discouraged and tired in a male-dominated field,” said Johnson, who never thought she would study in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines where African-American women are a double minority.
At Cheyney, she fell in love with computer science and decided to give it her all.
“I think one should never underestimate your own strengths. Everyone has their own purpose and with hard work, determination and faith, you will be able to achieve anything,” Johnson said.
She should know. She is living proof.
In November, Johnson attended the TMCF Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., and it enabled her spread her wings.
“I did a lot of networking. I went up to recruiters and introduced myself and gave them copies of my resume. While there, I met the first inaugural class of Apple interns and they were all raving about their experiences. I am in the second class of Apple interns and I can’t wait to go back to California and start working there.”
In August, she was invited to present her research at a science symposium in Maryland. Earlier this month, Johnson held a seminar on campus to encourage other students to step out of their comfort zones and begin to take advantage of all that Cheyney has to offer via partnerships with outside organizations such as TMCF.
“I wanted to branch out and be an asset to others by sharing my journey and my story of how I got some of the opportunities that have been offered to me. TMCF helped me build my portfolio in terms of travel, competitions, presenting my work, the leadership institute and so much more,” the college junior said.
“I am extremely proud of all of Tache’s accomplishments and I have no doubt that her list of achievements will continue to grow as she continues to seek out new opportunities for lifelong enrichment,” said Rayfield.
“Tache Johnson is the type of student that every educator wants to mentor, teach and support in their personal and professional development,” the Cheyney official added.
A member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, the Association for Computing Machinery and several honors societies, the aspiring computer programmer hopes to pursue a master’s degree in engineering once she graduates from Cheyney.
Source: The Philadelphia Tribune