While her efforts target students anywhere from kindergarten to college, Tara also focuses some of her time talking to young women who are already pursuing careers in STEM fields, as she recently did at AnitaB.org’s annual Grace Hopper Celebration — named In honor of the celebrity is an American computer scientist, mathematician, and naval admiral whose numerous awards have included the 1991 National Medal of Technology and the posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Says Tara, who was excited “to talk to the many people who are just starting to enter the job market and try to help them on their journeys.”

One important tip Tara gave them from her own journey of innovation comes straight from this revelation she received after receiving her first patent in 2008: “Don’t be afraid and don’t have Impostor Syndrome.”

“No one in our field ever knows everything,” said Tara, who was described last year by the Smithsonian Institution’s Limmelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, as well as in a children’s book called Who is the Scientist? Written by award-winning author Laura Gill, who has a BA in Psychology from Yale University and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Georgetown University.

“It is impossible for a person to understand this field across different regions,” adds Tara. “Your whole profession will be learning. So, don’t be afraid to jump in, start learning one thing, and then start looking around and realizing what the neighboring ingredients are.”

“Treat one puzzle piece at a time.”

Where does Tara see herself 10 years from now? The answer for her is not difficult. “I hope to keep doing what I do,” she says, walking the path of technology and delivering ground-breaking solutions to clients. Making sure what I’m working on is delivering value in this area.”

She adds, “I definitely envision myself continuing to volunteer, maybe more as I get older and maybe into retirement.” This spirit of giving, of being a role model and a helping hand to younger generations, is very much in keeping with Tara’s Native American cultural heritage.

“The Choctaw has always kind of focused on education and trying to strive for a better life for yourself and the community around you,” she says.

“I can never imagine Not being involved/involved.”

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