“I want every young immigrant to know that nothing should stop them.”
Editor’s note: Dolica Gopisetty is an Indian American technology and immigrants’ rights activist. She is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in informational technology at George Mason University in Virginia. Gopisetty, who came to this country at the age of 7, “aged out” of her H-4 status in January this year when she turned 21. She recently delivered a keynote address at Amazon’s Imagine conference in Seattle. In an exclusive column, the Cloud enthusiast writes that she wants her experiences to inspire other immigrant children.
By Dolica Gopisetty
I was a keynote speaker at the Amazon Web Services Imagine conference in Seattle, Washington, earlier this year. The event, “The Imagine: A Better World, A Global Education Conference,” hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS), convened education leaders for a unique learning experience. University presidents, administrators, school superintendents, and business executives met in Seattle, on July 10 and 11, to discuss the opportunities that face education, and how the AWS Cloud can be the missing piece to unlocking true innovation.”
The keynote speakers there were all industry professionals, who have been in education for more than 15 years. I was the youngest keynote speaker AWS has ever brought on stage. I shared the stage with very high-level executives and educators from all around the world. It was such an honor to be there and share my insights on Cloud and my journey with Cloud. In addition, I was the only Indian as well. It was a double minority for me and even triple minority, if you see it in this way: I was a female, I was the youngest, and I am Indian.
When I spoke at the AWS Summit in Washington, D.C., last month, someone from AWS saw me speak. After my panel, she approached me and complimented me on my talk. I said, “I hope I did not talk too much.” A few days after the summit last month, the same person reached out to me and asked if I would be interested to be a keynote speaker where I will have the mic to myself and I don’t have to worry about “talking too much.” I was really excited and started preparing for the event right away.
I love public speaking where I am able to share my journey and inspire and empower others around me, especially women. As an immigrant, I have to work hard and I want to pave my own path to success.
After the event, there were women who approached me and thanked me for sharing my journey. They said that I voiced the struggles of other women. Not only in person, but many have also shared on Twitter and LinkedIn and have specially reached out to connect further.
I am really excited about what is coming my way next, as I do not want to stop here and want to continue to empower others around me and make a difference and an impact for women and minorities around me.
I spoke about my journey in Cloud and how it has not only changed my career’s trajectory but allowed me to gain new knowledge that is very impactful for business of all scales. I said: “While researching into Cloud, there was only one thing that really struck me about Cloud Computing – there are plenty of things that are great about it but the one thing that took got my attention is: ‘you can start a business anywhere around the world with just a computer and an internet connection.’”
I love to spend time with girls and empower them. They have such rich creativity. But they are scared. Including me. Why? Because we are afraid to be alone. We hear the stereotypes and we don’t want to be in those situations. That is why I chose to empower girls by setting an example by teaching girls the necessary intellectual skills as well as soft skills that are necessary for the real-world survival. At George Mason University, where I study, I am surrounded by mostly boys, well some men, in my IT classes. Initially, I used to hesitate to speak up in class when I had a question, or if I wanted to answer a question that the professor asked. Later, I began asking myself, “Even though I am as intellectually on par, what is it that I don’t have that they have?”
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“Gender should not stop me from reaching where I want to be” is what I realized through phases where I wanted to speak but I did not. Living in the state of Virginia and not being able to call myself a Virginian. Living in this country for the past 15 years of my life and still not being able to call this country my home. “Why? What? How?”
I came to the United States to enroll for the 3rd grade, when I was 7 years old, under my mom as her dependent. I turned 21 years old on January 14, 2019, and I could no longer be her dependent because I aged-out. This meant I have to be independent and have an independent legal file of my own to secure my stay in the country – aka student visa
This meant that after the competition of my education, I have to find a job that will legally sponsor me for my work and stay in the United States. Since I am from India, there is almost a 15 years backlog and this number is continuing to increase. This means that I will not be a resident of the United States till I turn 45 years old, maybe. I can probably call myself a resident of the United States when I am 45 years old. The same person who came to the same country when she was 7 years old? You may ask. Yes.
This is what made me want to aspire as big as I can to stand out from the crowd and prove myself as the best engineer for the company I apply for. And I want every young immigrant to know that nothing should stop them. The fear of visas should not stop the creative process. We belong here as we are doing everything in our might to add to this country.