2015 Black History Month Google Student Tribute: Michael Tubbs

Over the past month, we’ve been showcasing the amazing work of some of Google’s Student Programs Alumni in their communities. In the final installment of the Black History Month Student Tribute series we are catching up with Michael who participated in the 2010 BOLD Internship Program and went on to be elected as a Councilman for the city of Stockton, California.

What’s one thing about you that many people do not know?
My email address in high school was “”! This is a tough question. I feel like J. Cole when he said, “Share my life with strangers who know me better than I know myself.” I tell my story so many times, I’m not even sure what people don’t know!

Since you’ve graduated from the BOLD internship program, what have you been up to?
As a BOLD intern, I learned about project management, how to interact with others and the importance of transparency and communication. I immediately put these skills to work as an intern in the White House and during my time studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. The summer after, I co-founded the Summer Success and Leadership Academy at the University of the Pacific and designed a week long residential experience for 50 Stockton students. During my senior year at Stanford, I received my bachelor’s degree with honors, my master’s degree in Policy, Organizational and Leadership studies, and decided to run for city council in my hometown of Stockton.

Since graduation, I’ve been featured in a documentary, True Son, that was screened at Google and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. As a Councilman, I have been able to to equip our officers with body cameras and establish an Office of Violence Prevention in partnership with the Police Chief. I have also been able to start literacy programs with the Housing Authority, pass “Ban the Box” legislation to give ex-offenders the chance to apply for jobs for which they qualify, open the first bank in my district in 50 years and I have increased philanthropic support for my district.

You’re a Stockton City Councilman. Was that always something you wanted to do?
Absolutely not. I view it more as a calling, as I was motivated by the murder of my cousin to go back and do my best to use the considerable blessings I had been given to improve my community.

You inspire a lot of your peers but who inspires you?
Mostly local people and luminaries from my past. My mom, aunt and grandmother inspire me and continue to inspire me. They are three single women who are not well educated, yet have done a phenomenal job. Historically, Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth have inspired me because they drove change despite facing so many more obstacles than we face today. Marian Wright Edelman inspires me, too, as do the original Freedom Riders. Finally, people in Stockton who are doing amazing things despite extraordinary challenges inspire me.

Why do you think it’s important to give back to others?
“The greatest of you shall be the servant of all,” said Jesus and I agree. Giving back is not a choice but a necessity because we all exist in this ecosystem together and the principle of Ubuntu is so true – “I only am when we all are.”

Posted by Shawn Dye, University Programs Team

2015 Black History Month Google Student Tribute: Maurita Ament

We’re continuing our student tribute in honor of Black History Month and showcasing Maurita, a Sophomore at Spelman College and Google Student Ambassador.

Tell us one really interesting fact about you?

I used to live in Italy for 2 & ½ years!

How were you introduced to Computer Science and what prompted you to study it in College?

I was introduced to Computer Science when I was twelve years old living in Rome, Italy. I spent a lot of time on the computer playing games like Neopets when I lived there. On Neopets, users connected with each other through “Guilds”. After joining a few of them I realized I wanted to make my own. However, once I made them, no one would join. I started browsing through multiple guilds to see what theirs had that mine didn’t. This was how I discovered HTML/CSS, Adobe Photoshop, and Computer Science. After teaching myself how to code and do some graphic design I was able to get over 100+ members to join my Guild.

How are you helping others who are interested in Computer Science?

As a Google Student Ambassador (GSA) for Spelman one of the first events I held was a social for the Spelman College Computer Science major’s where our freshman Spelman Sisters each received between 1-2 upperclassmen Spelman Sisters. The point of the event was to connect freshman with upperclassmen and for the upperclassmen to act as their mentor. If the freshman needed help understanding complex computer science concepts or just a new friend who could help guide them through the transition into college, the upperclassmen would assist them. I believe that Computer Science is a very challenging major/field, and as a freshman it can be an overwhelming experience, especially since it’s not a topic learned in great detail before college.

If you were given $1,000,000 to help others, how would you use the money?

I would establish as many computer labs for K-12 graders as possible. I would create these labs in poorer areas that don’t have the resources to fund a fully functioning computer lab. I would also give money to the American public education to change/improve what is taught in the Computer Science classes. I believe that if you know how to code, do graphic design, or effectively use a computer to gain knowledge, you can do anything your heart desires. They could use their creative and critical thinking skills to build android/ios apps or even websites. According to Time Magazine, “Even if students wanted to dive into programming [Java], the course is only offered in 10% of American high schools”. Without being given the education to dream bigger, students are also not given the opportunity to think outside of the box.

Why do you think it’s important to give back to others?

Life is a difficult and beautiful journey with obstacles that may seem insurmountable at the time. I believe that giving back causes a positive chain reaction, inspiring people to overcome the hardships that they are faced with, and enjoy the moments that take their breaths away. By giving back, you’re not only spreading positive energy that can turn an individuals day or life around, but you’re also giving someone the ability to do the same for another.

Posted by Melanie Lazare, Student Outreach team

2015 Black History Month Google Student Tribute: Robin McKinnie

Last week, we kicked off the Black History Month Student Tribute series by showcasing the amazing work Elizabeth Davis has done both on and off her college campus. This week we’re catching up with Robin, a member of our inaugural BOLD Discovery class and co-founder of The Village Micro Fund.

What’s one really awesome fact about you?

I’m one of those Southern kids who can trace their whole family’s history back to a few small towns. In fact, a good number of my older relatives live in the same towns and neighborhoods where my family has lived for generations. It seems small, but I’m grateful for being able to acknowledge my roots.

What are you most passionate about?

Community development as it pertains to building up neighborhoods and the people who live there. I was a community organizer my senior year of high school. The experience exposed me to the way neighborhoods and communities work and instilled in me the desire to serve and significantly impact others. In college, that drive extended to helping make structural change in communities and finding ways to build with struggling communities instead of giving back from a distance. Over time this has become something that drives me, not just a responsibility or something I derive happiness from.

You helped start a non-profit along with a few of your peers. Tell us about it and what motivated you guys to create it?

We’re creating platforms for people to invest in small business throughout Atlanta. We provide financial and consulting services to small business, primarily in distressed communities like the ones surrounding our school. Each of us has a strong conviction about using our interests in business and entrepreneurship to serve the community. Over time we realized the need to help communities (especially underserved black communities) become self-sustainable. Money has to circulate within a community for people who live there to feel its effect. So if every business in a neighborhood is a franchise, most of the money spent there won’t be reinvested in employment, infrastructure, and education for the people spending it. The Village Micro Fund became a way for us to give people the intellectual and financial resources to grow with their community.

Why do you think it’s important to give back to others?

I grew up with plenty of privileges and opportunities. At the same time, I have family members who were never able to enjoy some of the life experiences and opportunities that I have. I’ve learned to cherish what I have and make the most of every opportunity, and in the same vain, create as many opportunities for other people as I can.

Robin (far left) and his peers at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia

Posted by Chastity Wells, Student Outreach team

2015 Black History Month Google Student Tribute: Elizabeth Davis

At Google, we value diversity and inclusion and support individuals who do the same. In this series, the Google University Programs team is celebrating diversity and honoring Black History Month by showcasing four of our student programs alumni who have done incredible things in their community. This week we’re catching up with Elizabeth Davis, who participated in our 2014 Summer Trainee Engineering Program (STEP) in Zurich.

It’s great to catch up with you again. What’s one of the most exciting things that has happened to you since we last featured you on the blog?
This past fall, I had the amazing opportunity to travel with Google to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Phoenix, Arizona. The conference was an incredible experience for me as it was the first real chance I’ve had to connect with so many women of color in Computer Science. I was inspired by the thousands of women present who are not only techmakers themselves, but also passionate about supporting other women techmakers from all over the world. I left the conference with some phenomenal new mentors and friends.

Elizabeth at Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, October 2014

Can you give us a quick recap of the Google Women in Engineering Mentorship Program you launched and how it has developed since your internship ended?
During my internship this past summer, I, along with another intern, saw the need to cultivate a stronger community for women at Google. We realized that female Nooglers (new Googlers) needed to feel supported as they began their careers. With that in mind, we worked with the president of Google Women in Engineering (GWE) in Google Zurich, and the Google Head of Diversity for EMEA and decided that our best approach to addressing this need would be to start a mentorship program that connected female Nooglers to experienced employees. We completed an incredibly successful cycle of the program at the Zurich office over the summer, and have actually expanded the program to two other offices: Munich and Krakow. At the end of the summer we also had the chance to talk to the Google Global Diversity and Inclusion Director Yolanda Mangolini who has helped us plan out how we can continue to expand the Google Women in Engineering Mentorship Program (GWE-MP) globally.

What other initiatives have you been working on since being back in school?
As a section leader for our introductory programming course, I have the opportunity to teach undergraduate and graduate students who are trying out programming for the first time. This is a unique opportunity for me to not only help my students build a strong foundation in programming methodology and concepts, but also dispel any misconceptions they may have about the field and hopefully keep them involved in Computer Science.

I’m also involved in she++ which is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering women in the technology industry. We are currently organizing our national #include Fellowship Program, which provides resources and support to high school students who want to start grassroots initiatives to increase Computer Science education in their local communities. Diversity is really important to me so I have also recently begun working with professors in the Stanford Computer Science Department to figure out how to increase the representation of Black and Hispanic students in the CS major.

Why do you think it’s important to give back to others?
Giving back and helping others in need is a huge part of my core values and beliefs. I want everyone to experience the opportunities I’ve had as well as the confidence to pursue their dreams without feeling like an outsider in a largely homogenous community, or feeling like an imposter due to stereotype threats or other factors. I believe everyone has their unique talents and is capable of so much, and I want people of every gender and race within the technology industry to feel confident and empowered.

For information on additional Google student programs, visit

Posted by Maggie Hohlfeld, University Programs team