MEET DAWN HICKS
Hometown: Fordyce, AR
MY BACK STORY
Fordyce was very much a small town, in a very rural area. And I knew my whole life that I wanted to get out and get to a bigger city, because if you stick around there you had a very limited idea of what you could be. I wanted to explore and travel the world.
MY EDUCATION (Part 1)
Right out of high school, I went to college at Henderson State in Arkadelphia. My plan was to become a lawyer. But after a year, I realized I wasn’t ready for college yet. So, I joined the Navy. It was really my uncle, who was in the Navy, who convinced me. He said the military is a good path when you don’t really know what you want to do, but you want to travel. So that was the way that went.
MY WORK LIFE (Part 1)
I was in for a full tour, six years, 2008 to 2014. I was mostly landlocked, stationed in California and then Georgia, because I was doing cryptography, which was decoding encrypted foreign languages. It sounds high-tech but my job was mostly linguistics, verbal linguistics.
I liked the Navy, and I liked the job. The only reason I got out was because of the politics. The job I was in is a little too politically inclined, which didn’t work for me.
MY EDUCATION (Part 2)
When I left the Navy, I went back to school at Augusta University in Augusta, Georgia. My plan was to get a psychology degree. I wanted to become a sexual advocate because there were some programs I was in in the Navy, and I love helping people.
But while I was working toward getting my bachelor’s degree in psychology, which I did get, I took several programming courses. And it just came as naturally as breathing to me. The logic of it, the solving problems—it came as naturally as breathing. I was totally surprised, because having grown up in a rural area, I didn’t really have that much contact with computers. I thought that any programming would be a steep learning curve. But for me, it just clicked. It made so much sense.
MY TURNAROUND MOMENT
It actually wasn’t until after I finished my psychology degree that I decided to go in this direction. I went ahead and got my medical assisting certification, because I’m very hard-headed—I thought, I’ve already got my degree here. I’m going to keep trying. I even worked as a medical assistant for a while in Georgia.
But in 2020, I moved back to Arkansas for my family. Everything was happening with medicine and COVID and it seemed like the system just wasn’t working the way I wanted it to, and programming made so much sense. And I thought, you know what, this is as good a time as any to make a change, and this is what I really want to do.
So, then I started doing a lot more courses to move toward getting certified in things like CompTIA. I haven’t finished that quite yet, but I’m working on it. I initially was recruited by a company called Revature, but they needed me to move to either California or Florida or New York in order to work with their company.
About that time is when I found PeopleShores, in Pine Bluff, and they said, “Actually, you can do the same thing and work here.”
PeopleShores is a very varied environment. It seems pretty much whatever box you fit in; they’ll find a space for you. They hire people out to different contractors. Right now, we’re working with Blue Cross Blue Shield, and I’m doing claims because I have a lot of medical background.
But what I want to do is work with databases, which is what they’ll be shifting me on to, but we’re waiting for that project to come in. In the meantime, through my apprenticeship, I’m working with ACDS to get more knowledge in databases and BI, business intelligence. I’m still taking courses to learn exactly what all that entails.
Ultimately, I am a knowledge seeker. I like to know just about everything about a computer, and that’s my specialty right now. I’m working toward getting my certifications, and then I’ll climb up as far as PeopleShores will let me.