I think tech is heavily a part of underserved urban and rural communities, because you’ve got to figure out a way to make stuff work—that is the basis of hacking.
It wasn’t a hack in the sense of being able to brute force something, but I realized I could tell the computer what to do. There were so many obstacles, and then once you’re on it there are endless possibilities.
After a few years working as a production assistant in the film industry in her late teens and early twenties, Máxkii found herself living in a hostel in Albuquerque. Her room had eight people. She slept with her backpack containing everything she owned. She watched students at the University of New Mexico walking around the neighborhood at the start of the new school year.
On her blog Native Notes, where she had passionately written about native issues for years, Máxkii got an anonymous comment. It stated that if she wanted to actively change the community she wrote about, she should go to college. “That was the seed that was planted,” says Máxkii. "That was a catalyst. Here I am complaining about things, and there's a solution."
I remember using Google to search for the basics,” she says, and despite some unfamiliar terms, figured out how to fill out FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, as well as how to write a resume and a college admissions essay.
The potential I saw in my first meeting with Robin was her intellect...and my role was to gently push her, and she’s doing the same for her peers.
Dr. Miranda Haskie
Students feel safe around [Máxkii] to reach and seize their potential. She’s modeling what the outcome of those opportunities could be. And through that example, they see what they could become.
Dr. Miranda Haskie
All these big people work on the Hill. What is keeping me from interning there?
After speaking at a panel event at NASA, Máxkii spotted the CEO of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) and got excited. “To me, she’s like a celebrity, so of course I knew I had to approach her.”
It was an opportunity to make significant headway on one of Máxkii’s big ideas: a hackathon specifically for native students at all levels interested in STEM. “I had been passing this around to various organizations, and the reaction was to assume natives weren’t really interested in it,” she says.
For two years, I had been told no, and I finally got a little bit of the door opened, so I just kept going with it.
We have goals. We have dreams. And we don’t let anyone get in our way or drag us down.
Keenan Lee Barlow
Máxkii has turned her attention to graduate school applications, but she’s still incredibly conscious of working to amplify her community in the spaces she reaches. “Right now the indigenous voice is missing from the general science community,” she says.
She wants to target underserved communities, allocate more resources, and empower the people there to know “they’re a part of the larger picture.” She wants to promote inclusion, to bring people in and make them “realize that they’re not just smart but completely capable” of contributing to scientific fields.
As a native woman I felt like I was walking this tightrope, but it’s about feeling empowered and knowing you can do both. You can be a researcher or computer programmer and bring your culture with you.