How Raleigh Digital Connectors (RDC) Enabled Me To Be A Leader in Raleigh
We’re closing out our Digital Inclusion Week series with a post from Raleigh, NC. Habib Khadri, a sophomore at UNC-Chapel Hill in Computer Science and Business Administration, is an alum of the City of Raleigh’s Digital Connector program , sponsored by Google Fiber, which provides 14-18 year olds with technology and leadership training.
Being a leader isn’t reserved for individuals who are already placed in positions of authority, but rather invites individuals who possess determination, initiative, and a proactive mindset to step up and take charge. I have held numerous positions in clubs, organizations, and at work, but I cannot say I was a leader solely due to the title I was given. There are a multitude of initiatives where I was simply just a member, but can recall exact moments where I felt I exemplified what it means to be a leader.
Moving to Raleigh allowed me to participate in Raleigh Digital Connectors, a program for teenagers from backgrounds that are underrepresented in the technology industry. With support from Google Fiber, Digital Connectors offered leadership development aligned with community-based service projects. The program was close to my high school but the drastic difference in neighborhoods showed me the wealth gap that exists in Raleigh. The program’s classes were held in a low socioeconomic area where parents feared to drop off their children. My background coupled with my analytical nature allowed me to construct and present ideas to “bridge the divide” between socioeconomic classes within Raleigh. I was in the program for two years only to be invited back to be an instructor and later on, the speaker for two years in a row at the annual commencement ceremony.
Raleigh Digital Connectors has an annual program called “The Oak City Techathon” which enabled me to become an instructor within my community. Whether it was creating a Facebook account for senior citizens and allowing them to connect with long lost friends or teaching young kids how to assemble basic robots, I was able to spark a newfound interest in a multitude of groups scattered across the city of Raleigh. I knew these people would learn and then be inspired to teach what they learn to their peers.
I want to work toward eliminating the wealth gap and bring communities together so everyone has access to resources that are only available in the affluent areas. I think a step toward equity between these communities is to promote programs such as Raleigh Digital Connectors. I feel it is my experiences that enable me to be a global leader. Being a leader doesn’t mean just sitting back and delegating tasks, but involves hands-on experience and the ambition to want to better your community, whether it be local or global. I learned that even when you feel insignificant, everybody has to start somewhere.
Posted by Habib Khadri, UNC-Chapel Hill student and Raleigh Digital Connectors alum