I was going to be an artist.

Everyone knew I’d be an artist when I grew up.

Everywhere I lived during my childhood—the heart of Tennessee, the coast of California, the Texas border—I was known as the girl who could draw.

I loved art, but I wasn’t sure how to translate those skills into making a living. In 2003, I went to the University of North Texas to study graphic design and new media, hoping to turn a degree and the art skills I’d gained from a nationally-recognized art teacher into something that would help me, well…

Not be a starving artist, basically.

But I became a web developer.

While working on my degree, I got my first job in 2006 as a part-time web developer at the university. The university’s College of Arts & Sciences needed someone who knew enough HTML and CSS to maintain their rather large family of websites.

Hey, I had those skills!

I made my first website a decade earlier, in 1996, using Netscape Composer. It had an animated starry background, a few pictures of my art, some rainbow horizontal rules, and way too many Mario Kart animated gifs.

I continued to learn by creating many embarrassing websites throughout middle and high school.

All that tinkering paid off, though. By the time I went to college, I was completely comfortable using Photoshop, HTML, a little JavaScript, and some CSS.

That gave me the opportunity to join the smart and supportive people in the College of Arts & Science’s IT Services organization. (A little bit of networking and luck didn’t hurt, either.)

3 years later, I was promoted to full-time Web Architecture Manager.

I dropped out of college. At the time, I didn’t have the maturity and time management skills to juggle my first full-time job and school.

And besides, wasn’t getting a decent paying job the whole point of getting a degree?

Then I wanted to make websites better.