Published: May 9, 2017 By

Meridith Richter’s journey from creative writing, to computer science, to the ATLAS Institute’s Technology, Arts and Media (TAM) program was one of self-discovery.

Four years ago, she would never have guessed her first job out of college would be teaching 10- to 15-year-old girls how to write JavaScript and make videos to promote social movements, but in a few weeks she heads to the University of Washington in Seattle to do just that. 

Richter, who expected to study creative writing or film, was first introduced to the world of computer programming midway through her freshman year at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, when a friend asked her to take an intro programming class with her.

Richter expected to study creative writing or film, but midway through her freshman year, a friend asked her to take an intro programming class with her.

She says she did it on a whim, "I always thought programming was out of my league, or that it wasn’t going to give me the creative outlet I craved. I learned quickly, however, that with code I could absolutely be creative. It was so satisfying to actually make something, and make it work, instead of just talking or writing about it."

The next year Richter transferred to CU Boulder as a computer science major, taking film and music technology classes along with a computer science curriculum. 

But one day it hit her: "I could not see myself as a software engineer inside a cubicle surrounded by dudes in other cubicles. I felt like quitting."

Then, the BS-TAM major was announced. Not only could she apply computer science to art, digital media, music and live performance, but she gained technical skills in web design, physical computing, digital audio and film production.

"TAM provided the web design, film graphic design and programming skills to tell stories that are important to me across a variety of dynamic media. I gained the technical and practical skills to build a fire, and the environment provided the creative spark to ignite it. Instead of choosing between interests, I was able to take a variety of classes which fueled all of them."

Read the full story on the ATLAS Institute website.

Meridith Richter