Leslie Borst loves tinkering with code, and has learned a fair bit about it through experimentation. But, for most of Borst’s life, her passion was art. She attended the Art Institute of Phoenix for two-and-a-half years, taking a full class load while also working part time.
“I’ve heard a lot of criticism over the years about art students supposedly having it easy, because they’re just studying art and drawing all day,” says Borst. She reasons that this is a misconception, because a serious art student spends “between 40 and 60 hours per week, just in homework assignments.”
The workload tempered Borst’s excitement for art, but it was ultimately the prohibitive cost of tuition that forced her to change course and return to Michigan. However, one of her required classes at the Art Institute ignited another passion.
“They made us take an HTML class, so we could build our own portfolio site,” explains Borst, who took this skill home and began building upon it. “I would sit on my computer for hours, just playing with the code.”
She revealed this to her mentor, Chris DeMars, senior UI developer for United Shore, who suggested that she turn this hobby into a career. Borst enrolled at Macomb in 2017 and is pursuing an Associate of Applied Science Degree in IT – Website Programming. She expects to graduate following the winter 2019 semester.
“I’ve been loving every second of it,” Borst adds. “It’s way more affordable for someone like me, who’s working and just trying to get an education.”
It was also through the encouragement of her mentor that Borst applied for and was awarded a scholarship to take part in a Grand Circus coding boot camp in Detroit, sponsored by the DEVELOP(her) program. DEVELOP(her) aims to train female developers to enter the technology workforce, a field in which women are largely underrepresented.
Borst attends the boot camp, which runs through December, three nights a week. And that’s on top of her full-time class schedule. Borst is also creating a website for a national car club, and maintains a blog detailing her experiences in development.
“I’m trying to share my story a little bit to encourage people to go to school, get an education, and go after what they really want,” relates Borst. Her goal is to “pass the knowledge on to people who are just starting out and wouldn’t know any of those things that I learned, unless they had a mentor.”