USM student, mother, passion scholarship professional
Alkendria “Desiree” McNair’s passion for technology started with video games and evolved into an interest in 3D printing.
“I started out playing video games and then moved on to fixing phones. I’ve always had a hand in tech, but no one in my community has really pushed tech careers,” said the 27-year-old.
Now a student at Southern Miss in Information Technology, the Collins native is interested in how 3D printing homes can lead to greater sustainability and lower home costs. She was inspired by the lack of affordability of homes and a passion for the environment.
“3D printing is another way to create houses and buildings without using natural resources. … I thought it was something amazing to be able to literally build a house with a machine,” McNair said. .
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McNair is a mother and she said her 3-year-old daughter, Amora Hathorn, inspires her to succeed.
“She inspires me a lot to keep pushing when I’m tired,” McNair said. “I kind of do it for her. She has autism, so I want to be able to provide the services that she needs as well.”
McNair balances her responsibilities as a mother and student with her job as a student in the computer science department at Southern Miss.
McNair is also a member of the university’s Women in Science and Engineering organization and a historian of the Louis Stokes Mississippi Alliance for Minority Participation and is a veteran.
She was recently selected as a 2022 IBMzSystems Student Ambassador for her achievements.
NcNair will participate in a leadership program to enhance technical knowledge, network with industry leaders, and collaborate with peers around the world this summer.
“It’s basically an organization where you learn about IBM mainframes,” she said. “So you ask about their systems. They work with different companies, from airlines to banks.”
Sarah Lee, director of the Southern Miss School of Computing Sciences and Computer Engineering, said McNair is a leader.
“As an IBM zSystems Student Ambassador, she will have a great opportunity to expand her network by building relationships with professionals across the country and further developing her leadership skills,” said Lee.
McNair hopes she can inspire others to pursue their passions.
“I hope to inspire other people to do what they love to do and stop conforming to what they think they should be doing or what other people think because sometimes people just do things because others say they should, not because they want to,” McNair said.
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And the adversity she faced inspired her to succeed.
“It just pushes me more in a certain way,” McNair said. “Instead of seeing challenges as a problem, I try to solve them. I like solving problems, I guess.”
Before starting his journey, McNair didn’t think he knew enough about technology, but decided to work to learn.
“Since I’ve been in this business, I feel like I’m not working because I feel like I’m doing something that I really love doing,” McNair said.