Deja Lindsey: an NCP Alum With Great Advice for NCP Students
By Kate Clemenz
Deja Lindsey, Northside College Prep class of 2014, has a lot of achievements under her belt. She started a club at her college, was chosen for a very selective program through Johnson & Johnson, and became a cheer coach at a young age. Her story is about learning to do what she cares about - which is something she hopes all students can learn to do.
Lindsey was very involved in clubs and sports during her time at Northside. She was on the cheer team for four years and was captain for three years. She was also on the track team and was president of the Black Student Union. When asked what her favorite part about Northside was, she gave a short laugh and admitted to not liking it very much while she was there. However, she reconsidered for a moment and decided that she liked the fact that she was able to take many computer science classes. She was able to take five or six different computer science classes before she even got to college, which helped to ignite her love for the field. Ultimately, Lindsey acknowledged that her time at Northside greatly shaped who she is today. She lived on the far south side of Chicago, and her commute to school was an hour and 45 minutes each way. Her time on the train gave her “time for self evaluation, doing homework, and making friends.”
When looking at colleges, Lindsey knew that she wanted to attend, but did not care where. She did not apply to any big-name schools or Ivy Leagues - she knew that all she wanted was hot weather and computer science classes. She picked Florida A&M because the weather was warm and they offered her a full ride, which seemed like an opportunity she could not turn down. However, during her freshman year she found herself to be bored. She realized she needed more of a challenge, and when she talked to to one of her best friends from high school, he suggested that she transfer to Georgetown. She was unsure at first, but after sitting in on a few classes, she realized that she actually liked it a lot. It reminded her of Northside, but in a positive way because of its rigorous classes and dedicated students. So, she decided to transfer to Georgetown for her last three years of college.
Lindsey knew she wanted to major in computer science since high school. Her teacher at Northside was very passionate about getting more women involved in computer science, and he challenged her and encouraged her to stay involved. However, her second major was much more sudden. Georgetown has a requirement that all of its students take social science classes, so Lindsey picked sociology on a whim and just happened to fall in love. She said “I declared sociology as a second major the same semester I took Intro to Sociology.”
Sociology and computer science may seem like two opposing majors. However, when asked about how her majors work together, Lindsey explained that they are very helpful for user experience, which is “the art of looking at people’s behaviors and figuring out how to make better products.” She can use her majors to look at behaviors and analyze them in a way that developers do not usually know how to do, and use this information to create better products.
Lindsey was just as involved in similar extracurriculars in college and high school. She was on the Georgetown cheerleading team, and was “the first Northside cheerleader to go on and cheer in college.” She also started a chapter of an organization that helps minorities in STEM fields at Georgetown because the university did not have a club for what she was looking for.
After college, Lindsey applied to a Leadership Development Program at Johnson & Johnson that accepts only 40 people each year. It works to teach people the skills they need to become a leader, with the goal that graduates of the program can “become people managers in five years.” Lindsey was accepted to the program, and they placed her at a job in Florida. She currently works for Johnson & Johnson as a Resource Planner and Control Analyst. Her job is to analyze data of the people who work there and use it to improve the company. Her team looks at how many hours employees are working per week, how many projects they are working on, and other factors in order to make sure people are not being overworked. Lindsey said she sees good in living in both Chicago and Tampa. She said the weather in Florida is great, but that the “pace of life is way slower” in Tampa than it is in Chicago.
Lindsey has many goals set for herself. She wants to take the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) within the next six months so that she can apply to business school when she is ready. She is not planning to go back to school for a few years, but the score is good for five “so I figure I might as well do it now when I have no kids, no boyfriend, and I am still in a school mindset.” Lindsey is also the head cheer coach at a high school in Florida. Her team has many high-risk kids who do not have much money or support from their families, so she wants them to do well at the upcoming competition. She wants to make a lasting impact on the team, and give them the encouragement that they need.
Lindsey has more long term goals as well. By the end of 2019, she wants to have paid off her car. She also wants to start business school, and she does not “want to get too sidetracked or too involved in anything else.” It is important to her that she can go back to school full-time, so she wants to be prepared for that.
Beyond her many accomplishments, Lindsey greatly enjoys traveling in her free time. It is her goal to see at least thirty countries before she dies, and she admits to have gotten very good at finding cheap flights. Her favorite TV shows are NCIS and Law and Order SVU. She likes listening to hip-hop, and said that if she could go anywhere in the world, it would be Brazil. She finds traveling “invigorating” and enjoys taking risks.
When asked if she has any advice for current Northside students, Lindsey simply encouraged students to “focus on you.” She admits that she often “did what others wanted me to,” and she wants young adults not to make the same mistakes. She urges students to live for themselves, to do what they like, and to focus on the things that will make them a better person. She tries to guide herself by the idea to “live your best life, because no one else is living it for you” and truly believes that “you are wasting your time if you aren’t figuring out who you are.” Northside students certainly have a lot to learn a lot from her.