Jacqueline Corley is the founder and president of Girls Inspiring Generations and Tech Girls Code, instructor of computer information sciences, published author, public speaker, and coding coach. One of few women in the technology space, she has used her experiences to help other women find the same success in computer sciences.
“But really all of those passions stem from one thing. I just want to help people leave the mark that they really want to leave,” she says. “Whether that’s girls who are really wanting to live out their purpose, or women who are really wanting to overcome their challenges so they can live out their purpose, or even women who are wanting to get into the field of tech who have so many challenges and they really just want to get over them. Whatever it may be, that’s my journey, that’s my purpose.”
Jackie’s interest in technology was birthed by the computer her parents purchased when she was young. As they brought in the monitor, power system, and keyboard, all of which ran on dial-up internet, she remembers asking, “What is that?”
“I told myself, I have to know everything about it. I have to know what it does. I gotta know how it works. I’ve got to know everything,” she says. “And that was literally my introduction and that’s what I spent my life doing ever since.”
She first learned about coding and web development in high school. As she became familiar with Java and got into design, she fell in love. After graduation, she went on to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science. Today, she even teaches at the college level, helping other students reach their goals.
“I just love love love the tech world and I love everything that is involved with it,” she says.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing.
While in her undergraduate, she dropped out of her first college programming class halfway through the semester. She struggled with the programming language they were learning, one she’d already tried and failed to learn in high school. Then, after passing all of her courses and earning her degree, she found herself on academic probation twice in grad school. These difficult moments were a few of the many times she questioned her life goals and the field she was pursuing.
“I remember feeling so many times that I just was lost in everything,” Jackie says. “And I thought to myself, goodness, I must be lost because if I’m on academic probation twice in the computer science major and I’m supposed to be doing this for a living, what’s wrong with me? I think I’ll probably just quit.”
So she tried. While in her undergraduate, she decided to switch to a different major, but found she couldn’t go through with the change.
“It was just something in me that was pulling me back toward this industry and, at first, I didn't know what it was,” she says. “There was this pull in me to go back to technology.”
Even after she dropped that first class and wanted to do anything except programming, something kept pulling her back.
“Something in me just said, no this where you need to be,” she says. “I tried so many times to just hide in this industry. I can’t tell you how many times I tried to hide because I just thought even I wasn’t good enough.”
It may have taken a lot of kicking, screaming, and crying, but Jackie chose to honor her vision and that spark of curiosity she felt when she saw her first computer. And when she finally stopped running, she was finally able to discover what she was meant to do in this space.
“In all those situations where I was dealing with tough stuff and learning how to code and going through academic probation and all of that, it was just always, ‘Okay, this is where you actually need to be,’” she says. “So I was excited to explore that more and that was when I decided to really look at my own vision, like what do I do I see for myself being in this industry, because obviously something is not letting me leave this alone. I’ve got to figure this out.”
For Jackie, her vision led her to teaching other computer sciences students, helping them, and women in particular, find their own places within the tech industry.
“Now I am at the point where I have made my mark and now I want to give back,” she says. “I want to help other women get into this like I have because it has just been such an incredible journey for me and I know there are others who are wanting to do the same.”
Get the full story here and hear about the importance of women in coding, where to find inspiration for your personal vision, and how to value yourself as a freelancer.