When identical twins Shalisha and Shonda Witherspoon sat in their first computer science class at Florida International University, they wondered if they had made the best choice. After all, they knew little to nothing about computers and, as Black females, they were firmly in the minority. Today, as dual recipients of one of the industry’s most notable honors for young professionals ― the Most Promising Engineer award ― they no longer question their curriculum choice less than a decade ago.

The Miami natives, first-generation college students and powerhouse engineers are used to breaking barriers. “I think there were three girls in our first programming class,” Shalisha said. “We were outperforming the boys.”

And that was just the beginning. As IBM interns, the two were part of an all-female team that won first place in an IBM hackathon. And at FIU, the two shared the Best Undergraduate Student of the Year award when they graduated with B.S. degrees in 2016. They went on to receive their M.S. from FIU in 2018.

Read more at FIU News.