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From Indiana to Los Angeles and points in between, Jessica Loyd never thought she would end up in Tulsa.

 She has family in the area, and they regularly tried to convince her to move to the city, but it wasn’t until 2017 during what she initially planned on being a six-month family visit that she fell in love with the Tulsa area.

With an undergraduate degree from Ohio State University and a Master’s degree in Music/Business Administration from California State University, Northridge, Loyd, 35, is now in her second trimester at the Holberton School, a software and coding school for students of all backgrounds located in downtown Tulsa. In addition to experience in the music industry, she also has nonprofit experience. 

“I had always felt like tech was something I wanted to get into,” she said. “As far as developing, I always had a curiosity about learning how to code or how to do computer programming, but I thought that it was too far out of reach.”

 What the heck is machine learning?

Loyd learned about Holberton through the Tulsa Creative Engine Spark Summit, a conference highlighting the intersection of music, technology and entrepreneurship.

“They talked about Holberton’s theory of change, if you will – that the application will essentially tell you if you can successfully make it through the program and learn computer programming. So that’s where the seed was really planted and watered,” she said.

Since starting, Loyd has decided to pursue machine learning and hopes to continue to elevate the experiences for people of color and those from varying socio-economic backgrounds. 

“By studying machine learning, I feel like I can impact society on a greater level,” Loyd said. “Even if it’s something small, I believe I can open up peoples’ minds through different data points and the people behind them.” 

Machine learning is the technology behind some of the most exciting innovations today. Self-driving cars, voice-controlled personal assistants and AI to help doctors diagnose diseases have all been developed with the help of machine learning software engineers.  

 Building a tech future at Holberton School

Generous support from local philanthropic organizations is allowing students at Holberton’s Tulsa campus to be able to focus on their studies full-time, which has helped ease the financial stress, Loyd said.

“We’re really able to treat it like a full-time job,” she added. Loyd is focused strictly on completing her studies at Holberton, where she also helps other students by tutoring them.  

As part of the tuition-deferment, students’ tuition payments are managed interest-free and based on a percentage of the student’s income after graduation. The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, meanwhile, offers qualifying students need-based living assistance with $1,500 per month to help cover living expenses like housing and food while attending Holberton. 

Holberton currently has partnerships with several organizations that work to increase access and opportunities for people from historically underserved, underrepresented and otherwise underresourced communities. Those organizations include Urban Coders Guild, Black Tech Street, Tulsa Dream Center and Tulsa Housing Authority.

For Loyd, Tulsa has become home, not only through the community she has made at Holberton, but also through other avenues. Her favorite thing about Los Angeles was concerts, but she quickly realized Tulsa also had a rich music scene. In her free time, Loyd can be found catching performances by local artists like Written Quincy or at the World Culture Music Festival. 

“When I discovered the richness of Tulsa’s music and emerging technology scene, I was like, ‘OK, I can do Tulsa!”

More information about machine learning and the Holberton Tulsa program is available here. 

The Black Wall Street Times is a news publication located in Tulsa, Okla. and Atlanta, Ga. At The BWSTimes, we focus on elevating the stories of our beloved Greenwood community, elevating the stories of...

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