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From Spelman to Microsoft

From Spelman to Microsoft

From Spelman to Microsoft

From Spelman to Microsoft

From Spelman to Microsoft

From Spelman to HBCU@SXSW

After switching her major to Computer Science, Mariah Cowling found herself at the 2nd annual HBCU@SXSW program in 2017. Today, she is a software engineer at Microsoft.

Meet Mariah

Mariah has always been someone who sees opportunity and takes action. As a kid, Mariah promised her father she would attend Spelman College, with goals of becoming an Aerospace Engineer.

However, there was only one major problem.

The historically black women's liberal arts college engineering program was not on campus. So, she became a computer science major. As a computer science student at an HBCU, Mariah quickly realized that viable career opportunities are hard to come by and that her school is often overlooked.

Realizing this, Mariah began to search, participate and activate for opportunities, programs and initiatives that provide value for students like her.

So, after hearing about HBCU@SXSW and what it offers, going through the application process seemed like a no-brainer. Like Mariah, over 500 students applied to attend in 2017. 100 were selected to attend.

“I was truly honored to be one of 100 minority students, who are our brilliant future leaders in tech, to be selected for this life-changing occasion.”


HBCU@SXSW, as captured in this USAToday article, is an early exposure initiative of Opportunity Hub.

Each year, major corporations, tech companies, startups, ecosystem builders, influencers and foundations sponsor HBCU@SXSW so that top African American and Latinx technology and business talent from our nation's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI’s), Tribal Colleges and Predominantly White Institutions (PWI’s) can attend SXSW. In 2016, 50 college students attended. In 2017, 100 students from 41 colleges and universities attended. Ninety (90%) of the students that participated in in 2017 were placed in paid summer internships or permanent jobs. The goal of the program is to take 500 students.

With intentional diversity initiatives like HBCU@SXSW, these students can gain the necessary immersive exposure, interactive learning opportunities and direct access to paid summer internships or permanent jobs in the innovation economy that are afforded by attending SXSW.


HBCU@SXSW is apart of South by Southwest (SXSW), the most significant interactive technology conference and festival on the planet.

In 2015, more than 84,385 attendees experienced terrific keynotes, hundreds of panels and exclusive networking opportunities that provide buzz-generating exposure and opportunities to engage with decision-makers in the innovation economy.

“Between learning more about the Internet of Things, AI, and onsite genetic sequencing, I had the opportunity to network with many leading companies in technology including Google, Snapchat, Microsoft, Twitter, and countless others.”

Visit the HBCU@SXSW website

HBCU@SXSW literally shifts the economic trajectory of its students. Learn more about this amazing program and how you can support its growth. Read other student testimonials. Sponsor students. Apply as a student to attend. Visit HBCU@SXSW.

“From this experience and the exposure to numerous entrepreneurs, I am more invigorated than ever to continue and amplify my pursuits towards innovation.”

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