Asst District Governor Keith Richenbacher introduced our extremely well qualified Speaker, Ava Mason, who is the Executive Director of TREOBYTES. She earned her degree in Management Technology and Biochemistry from Purdue University. Taking part in summer enrichment science programs and fairs as a child, she was exposed to science at a critical time, pivoting her to college studies and a career in science. She worked in the pharma, biotech and life sciences industries, with companies ranging from Fortune 500s to start-ups.
Ava Mason’s passion is to empower more girls and underprivileged kids to embrace technology. She does this through her organization TreoBytes which runs programs after school in neighborhoods local to where kids live and go to school. The programs make computer science and technology accessible to kids.
She explained how when she grew up in a neighborhood in Indianapolis, her parents. the local neighbors and local school provided consistency and a firm foundation contributing to her success. Neither of her parents attended College, but she is a complete blend of her parents.
She learnt the importance of surrendering to hard circumstances through the struggles with her premature baby and subsequent medical struggles. She learnt to say “I’m not Special” but “I have a duty to be visible”. I am a scientist, I am on a mission to remain visible.
TreoBytes starts girls early on Science and Technology. The limiting mindset of “I’m not good at math” sets in early – as early as 4th Grade. Schools are not so different from when Ava grew up, but there are different variables now which impact kids, such as kids coming to school hungry.
Her facilitators are college students and recent graduates. She is mentoring them as well as the young kids who attend her programs.
The overall goal is to make technology accessible. The learning environment includes tinkering and coding. Boys and Girls need to be re-engaged. Girls think things through differently. But when teams are working collaboratively in the work place, everyone is different. The program shows kids they have support and ability.
Her program has over 700 students presently, at 7 schools from Pre-K, through Elementary and Middle School. They are developing computer kits which include hardware to encourage tinkering. By using the kits and following curriculum, kids can earn the Certification which will qualify them immediately with skill sets for employment in hardware production. 95% of their funding comes from grants.