Meet Mara Silva & Maribeth Teves, Founders of the Google Student Developer Club

A new student-run organization is coming to the UConn Stamford campus for Fall 2021— the Google Student Developer Club. Founded by Computer Science students Mara Silva and Maribeth Teves, the Google Student Developer Club helps students connect theory to practice while learning about new Google technologies. I had the opportunity to learn more about the Google Student Developer Club from Maribeth and Mara as they shared their story of bringing this innovative student organization to UConn Stamford.

Tara Malone: Please introduce yourself: major, class year, and current career aspirations.

Maribeth Teves: I am a rising senior in UConn Stamford’s Computer Science program, aspiring to be a software engineer or app engineer. My biggest inspiration is my art. I’ve been able to make a decent amount of money from it and it is the reason I chose Computer Science in the first place. In Computer Science, creativity can be incorporated into every step.

Mara Silva: I am a Computer Science and Engineering student currently in my senior year at UConn. Before I transferred to UConn, I obtained my Associate’s degree in Computer Science from Gateway Community College. I aspire to be part of a team of Software Engineers to develop technologies that help and empower our community, from non-profit organizations to innovative startups.

TM: The Career Center is interested in how the intersectionality of identities affects career development. Could you share a bit about your background?

MT: I am Southeast Asian, Filipino. While my parents obtained their degrees in the Philippines, I am the first in my immediate family to attend college in the US. Education is very important to my family. My parents considered college mandatory as they used to live in farmland— their degrees were what enabled them to be so successful, move to the US, and do very well in their jobs. I also value education and I find it to be important in my career path in order to live the life my parents wanted for me when they moved here.

MS: Becoming the Google Student Developer Club lead is not only a professional development opportunity but is also personally meaningful. I am an immigrant, a woman of color, and a first-generation student. It is not often that you see people like me having leadership positions in the tech space. However, it is something that I would like to see more often.

TM: Before starting the Google Student Developer Club, what some other ways have you been involved on campus and how have these experiences enriched your professional development?

MT: I’ve worked with the Innovative Creative Center and the UConn Stamford IT department which helped me to develop my creativity and leadership skills. I also work with the Computer Science department and will be working with the Synchrony Digital Technology Center. Additionally, I am a Fairhaven Scholar and a Krenicki Arts & Engineering Institute Scholar.

MS: I am currently an intern in the UConn Stamford Computer Science department building an application to assist a non-profit organization to achieve their daily tasks. I have acquired new technical skills such as using Google Cloud Platform and building full-stack applications as well as teamwork skills. I have also worked as a student administrator at Innovation Collaborative Space, which allowed me to learn how to assist and collaborate with different groups of students.

TM: Tell us about the Google Developer Club.

MS: The Google Student Developer Club is a community group where university students are able to gain experience, while also building solutions for local businesses and communities. In this club, members will be working closely with new and innovative Google products in order to make services widely accessible to the community and to benefit them as a whole, while also training its members and expanding their knowledge.

TM: What are some of your goals for the club?

MS: Our main goal is to develop projects that will help our community. We aim to partner with nonprofit organizations, local businesses, clubs within our university, and many other entities to help them achieve their goals while members acquire technological and leadership skills. We want to help students apply what they have learned in the classroom in real-world applications. Ultimately, we aspire to build a welcoming, supportive, and diverse community of technology enthusiasts who empower each other while learning new skills.

TM: Why is this opportunity particularly important for you?

MT: Women aren’t very common in Computer Science and I find it hard to relate to a lot of my other peers. I feel like it’s important to be able to see someone like yourself in a position you want, and seeing women like me excel in the tech world always makes me a little more hopeful for the future. Additionally, because art and creativity are such important parts of my life, it makes me happy to have an opportunity that combines art and technology.

MS: This opportunity will allow us to expose students with different backgrounds to extraordinary technology in hopes of helping bridge the social gap in the tech space.

TM: How did you secure this opportunity?

MS: Professor John Iacovacci and Professor Phillip Bradford are two passionate figures in the UConn Stamford community who wish to grow the technology community on campus. It is thanks to them that I learned about the opportunity and decided to apply. After I applied, I was invited for an interview. A few weeks later, I received an email informing me that I was selected by Google to be the Google Developer Student Club lead at UConn Stamford.

TM: What advice do you have for students who are looking to start their own group or innovative venture?

MT: The biggest obstacle for many students, especially at a campus like Stamford where there are many commuters and students who may be hesitant to go out of their bubble, is participation. It’s very important to be friendly with your peers and get to know them outside of class, especially if you’d like to start something of your own. It’s only when I became friends with Mara and started looking into opportunities together as peers that we’ve been able to accomplish so much– the Google Student Developer Club, internships, studying for classes together, and more. Get to know professors in the fields you’re interested in. Knowing Professor Bradford has definitely allowed me to take part in many of these opportunities.

MS: Approach your professors who are knowledgeable in your area of interest. They can guide you in the right direction to achieve your goals. It is ok to be scared to start something new— that is proof that you are doing something bold and brave, so go for it!

TM: How can students get involved with the Google Student Developer Club?

MS: Any student can get involved— even those from other majors not related to Computer Science. As long as you show interest in coding and technology, the Google Student Developer Club will be a good fit for any student! We will soon have a site for any student to go to join. In the meantime, they can fill out this form to become a member and follow us on LinkedIn for instant updates.

By Tara Malone
Tara Malone Associate Director, Regional Campuses Pronouns: she/her/hers