By Lu Martinez
About six years ago, the tech bug bit me hard.
I was a graduate of the University of Miami Law School and a licensed attorney. I worked as Chief Privacy Officer for Jackson Health System, where I had grown from a manager role and later became Director of Policies, Training and Education. From the outside view, my traditional career was growing. However, I realized a need to ramp up my technical abilities to better form, test, and scale ideas for new programs and innovations that I wanted to develop. While I contemplated how to best be an intrapreneur within a large corporate setting, my long-term goal was contribute to society and help others.
In my free time, I co-founded a small, self-funded charity called Stardom Up, Inc. To accelerate my tech knowledge and apply it to Stardom Up, I enrolled in Ironhack, a bootcamp in Miami, which offers full-time and part-time courses in web development, coding, and design. I created the initial version of StardomUp.com as my final project during the Ironhack course in the summer of 2015.
Ironhack was the glue that brought my diverse skill sets and community impact aspirations together. Once I completed my Ironhack training, and after considering multiple factors and alternatives, I left my job in 2016 and devoted myself full-time to building Stardom Up.
Stardom Up creates educational programs to support student curiosity about technology and innovation. We're currently partnered with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, via Shenandoah Middle School in Miami, to enhance the STEAM (Science, Technology, Arts, Engineering, and Math) curriculum. As the first and only program in the region to combine an online platform with in-person learning during school hours, Stardom Up expands students’ problem solving and critical thinking abilities and engages them into Miami’s growing tech community. We help prepare young talent for an unpredictable future.
Stardom Up is currently in the "scale up" phase at Shenandoah Middle School. It’s supported by Shenandoah’s administrators and teachers, as well as volunteers from Miami’s growing tech community. Best of all, it generates results: along with helping them in their core subjects, the students in the program - especially girls - are fascinated by technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship, and have expressed their interest in pursuing careers in technology-related fields.
Our plan is to continue to collaborate with tech leaders and innovators in the community and engage at least 10,000 middle school students within the next five years. With approximately 80,000 middle schoolers in Miami-Dade County alone, there’s a lot of young talent we hope to nurture and inspire to become tomorrow’s technologists and innovators. It begins by showing them what’s possible, and by supporting their ambitions to become the community’s future stars.
Lu Martinez is the founder of Stardom Up.