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Sasha Ariel Alston, Inspiring Black Girls to Pursue STEM

BrooklynButtah: What inspired you to write Sasha Savvy Loves to Code?

Sasha Alston: My mom definitely played a role in me writing this book because she’s an author. She saw I was really interested in STEM and coding in high school. We were saying that a lot of people didn’t know what it was. So, she came up with the idea of me writing a children’s book to get minorities and girls interested in it.

BrooklynButtah: You said your mom is a writer, have you always had a passion for writing?

Sasha Alston: Yes, I always had a passion for writing. I was always a very good writer in school and still to this very day. I would always spend some of my free time writing. So, it’s always been something I been interested in.

BrooklynButtah: What got you into coding? Did someone teach you or is it something you picked up and learned on your own?

Sasha Alston: In D.C. I went to a school called McKinley Technology High School. At that school when you were in 9th grade, you had to choose which track you wanted to go. So, there was technology, engineering, biotechnology, and math. Since, I chose technology, they taught us how to code.

In the 11th grade, I had an internship at Microsoft and that truly showed me what you can do with coding. We were in groups and had to make gaming apps; I was the marketing manager. So, I saw you can do technology and business together. That internship showed me what you can really do with it.

BrooklynButtah: Tell us about STEM. What does it stand for and what does it entail?

Sasha Alston: STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. I’m focused more on the “T” of STEM. Within technology is coding and coding is basically a set of instructions a computer can understand based on different languages. You can make the computer do whatever you want it to do whether you wanted to make an app or a website.

BrooklynButtah: What does the average STEM person look like?

Sasha Alston: I feel like what I’ve seen is mainly white males. But, I feel like it’s somewhat trying to shift into being literally anyone can do it. So, I’ve seen more African Americans and girls in it but still not to the standard of how it should be.

BrooklynButtah: This book is geared towards young girls. So, if you had a daughter and she wanted to go into coding is this a field you would suggest her going into?

Sasha Alston: Yes, it would be something I would expose her to and let her decide if she actually wanted to do it. It’s kind of how the book goes because Sasha’s mom is a software developer and she’s trying to figure out what she should do for the summer. So, her mom gave her the idea of going to a coding camp and she kind of teaches her about it and convinces Sasha to go. In the end, she realized that she really liked it.

BrooklynButtah: What are some ways you’re promoting the book?

Sasha Alston: I’m definitely using social media a lot – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. In the beginning, I had a press release but I think me having the Kickstarter played a huge role in promotions because Kickstarter started posting it on their social media accounts and it continued to be shared across a lot of different sites. So, I think social media played a huge role.

BrooklynButtah: Do you plan on writing more books geared towards coding or anything else in the future?

Sasha Alston: Yes, I definitely want this book to be a series. I’m not totally sure if it’s going to continue to be about coding or just STEM in general but I do want to continue the Sasha Savvy book.

BrooklynButtah: What’s next for you?

Sasha Alston: For the Kickstarter, 529 people donated to it. So, right now I’m just focused on getting all the books to the backers because I said by the end of May I would give it to them. After that, the books will be online on Amazon and other different sites. Then, I’ll focus on doing a book tour and spreading awareness about the book and STEM in general to build the brand.

BrooklynButtah: I’m not sure if you’re aware but May is Mental Health Awareness month. How do you balance your own mental health?

Sasha Alston: I would say having people to talk to. My mom and I are very close so anytime I have an issue or she has an issue we’re able to communicate. Also, just having friends in general. I think having someone to listen to you definitely plays a role in your mental health because sometimes people don’t have anyone to go to about their issues.

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About Shekera Clarke

My name is Shekera Clarke. I am currently a senior at the University at Albany majoring in journalism with a business minor. I grew up in Queens, NY. QGTM! My goals upon graduating include either writing for a pop culture magazine/blog or work for ESPN because of my love for sports - whether that's behind the scenes or on air.

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