The language of inspiration

“I’m thankful for how Mount Holyoke has taught me to be confident in what I already know. I’ve always been eager to learn, but the College has shaped how I learn and how I approach learning and problem solving.”

Building new technologies and problem solving have been at the center of Enam Dartey’s time at Mount Holyoke. In high school, she was enthralled with robotics, the process of taking an idea from paper to real life. She entered the College looking for a similar experience. She found that at the Fimbel Maker & Innovation Lab, an on-campus resource that allows and encourages students to bring their ideas to life.

“When I entered the lab for the first time, I was so nervous and shy. Although I had worked with electronics and other materials in high school, I was in a new space and nervous to ask for help,” she said. “The first project I made was a lie detector. I wouldn’t say it was extremely accurate, but it was able to detect mood changes. That was a great feeling.”

Hailing from Accra, Ghana, in West Africa, Dartey came to the College with the intention of studying computer science to build upon what she learned in high school. What she didn’t expect was the opportunity to explore the field of computer science as deeply as she’s been able to. Nor did she expect for her love of the French language — her second major — to be reignited.

“I’ve realized that computer science and French are just two languages. Majoring in them both allowed me to combine my love for languages,” she said. “Learning these disciplines helped open up and connect with people, which helped me build my confidence while at school.”

After spending a few semesters in the lab testing theories and working with other students on their projects, she wanted to be able to do more. She applied for a student position at the lab, took the required courses and training and started the job in 2021. Since then, she says her confidence has soared. Her classmates and staff in the lab have turned to her for guidance on projects and help when they’re stuck on a project.

Dartey also took inspiration from her first few shy moments in the lab to help future students who might find it too intimidating to stay and create something. She’s working on a call button for the lab, which will operate like a flight attendant button on an airplane. Her plan is to get it up and running before she graduates so students can use it to let staff in the lab know when they’re stuck and need support.

“I was introverted when I started at Mount Holyoke and found it difficult to ask for help, even when I knew I needed it,” she said. “My time at Fimbel helped me build more confidence and taught me that it’s okay to turn to my professors when I get stuck on problems. In fact, it’s quite normal, especially in the field of computer science where you learn and relearn often because the technology is always changing.”

With the confidence she gained over the years and the support of professors in the computer science department, Dartey decided to apply for a competitive internship at Microsoft. From the pool of applicants, she rose to the top and spent last summer interning there as a software engineer. She says her time in Fimbel helped make this opportunity a reality and was pleasantly surprised by how much she learned in her initial computer science classes, which informed her work at Microsoft.

After a successful summer with Microsoft, she’ll be moving to Atlanta, Georgia, after graduation to work with the company full-time on the Cloud team. Longterm, she doesn’t want to forget her robotic roots, which first introduced her to the field of computer science. In addition to her full-time work, she wants to build technology that will impact her community and make a positive change.

“I’m thankful for how Mount Holyoke has taught me to be confident in what I already know,” she said. “I’ve always been eager to learn, but the College has shaped how I learn and how I approach learning and problem solving. Much of it is because of what I’ve been able to learn and try out in Fimbel Lab.”

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The Office of Marketing and Communications spreads the word about Mount Holyoke College’s distinctive strengths and newsworthy accomplishments.

Christian Feuerstein
  • Director of Public Affairs and Media Relations