What can a Technical Architect at Microsoft learn from a Girl born to be a Child Bride?
This pandemic has opened our eyes to see people who were once invisible, enabling us to rediscover the unbiased lenses we were born with. CAT Susch, a Technical Architect at Microsoft, learned how to see the world through unbiased glasses the day she started mentoring a girl in Kenya who was born to be a child bride.
Read more about CAT’s eyes and how the bond with her mentee Beatrice helped her become more inclusive and innovative in the way she designs solutions for customers.
Why is everyone smiling as Beatrice walks through her village, at the crack of dawn each day? Because, most remember her as one of the little girls who religiously walked along their dirt roads for the daily collection of water and firewood, because that’s what girls do in certain rural communities in Kenya where girls are raised to become child brides.
But, today, it is clear that Beatrice took a different path, one which took courage and hard work. Today, she walks with the confidence of a school teacher – a pillar in her community, a role model for other girls, and proof that educating Beatrice is producing the kind of ripple effect we hear about in news and documentaries that highlight why we should educate girls.
Why is CAT smiling as she sits at her computer in Microsoft’s New York Technology Center, reading an interesting response from a young women she has been mentoring for the past four years? Because the response is coming from Beatrice and CAT knows that responses from Beatrice always make her think about things differently, more deeply and with greater empathy.
CAT and Beatrice have never met, but communication technology has connected them in life-changing ways. Through Microsoft’s strong ‘Give’ culture CAT has been supported to mentor Beatrice and enable her to graduate college. Yes, college, something unprecedented in Beatrice’s rural village!
CAT’s thoughtful mentoring approach has transcended any / all cultural barriers and lifted Beatrice into a world of economic empowerment and limitless thinking about life’s opportunities. Beatrice’s courage and resiliency have had an impact on the way CAT now thinks about things, and their relationship has provided CAT with a new lens on the world, one which helps her see things that went unnoticed before. Together they are better. Together, their worlds are better.
Beatrice and CAT articulate what ‘better’ feels like:
“My life would have been completely different if not for my mentor CAT. Not only did CAT sponsor my education, she also helped me discover my passion for teaching. She helped me focus, prioritize and sharpen my problem-solving skills while in college, because I had to work twice as hard as others to attain passing grades.”
“My mentor held my hand through the most difficult part of my transitioning from a low self-esteem adolescent girl to an empowered young woman. Today, the sky is my limit. CAT has motivated me to be the best I can be.”
– Beatrice Teacher, St. Michael Academy
“It’s been an amazing experience for me to follow the journey of this young woman, who has studied hard and is now beginning her career as a teacher. Although she is from a country I have never visited, Beatrice has touched my spirit of helping others as I observed how she was bettering herself for the sake of educating children in Kenya.”
“Through the course of my mentoring, I have been learning to ask questions – asking them to understand Beatrice’s challenges, experiences, goals and dreams. Through this exercise of empathy, I have grown better at not being quick to judge or quick to solution, with my decisions and designs for our customers. Getting to know and understand other’s challenges and goals, helps us be inclusive and innovative in designing solutions.”
“Being a mentor to a girl like Beatrice makes you value yourself and your life. Not only because you realize that you can actually help her, but because she helps you realize just how much you have to give.”
– CAT Susch Technical Architect, New York Microsoft Technology Center
Mentoring brings out the best in girls. The Global Give Back Circle has set up a platform for long-distance mentoring, which supports the education, mentoring, and economic empowerment of at-risk girls in East Africa. You can make a huge difference in a girl’s life without ever leaving your computer. Consider joining our ‘Mentor Circle’ and giving back as a mentor.