Being Bold for Change: Reflections on Maternal Inspiration

by Kevin Dunnell | 5/11/2017

Kevin Dunnell is an Experience Designer at Infosys Limited in Palo Alto, CA. Over the last 2 years Kevin has volunteered creativity and support to Infosys Foundation USA initiatives “Why I Make” campaign and Infy Maker Awards, as well as partner projects CSPd and MakerEd.

Earlier this year I attended an event celebrating International Women’s Day where I heard many inspiring stories shared by women on the struggles and triumphs experienced in the workforce. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day: Being bold for change. While female participants voiced how they were being bold for change in their lives to forge a better working world a more inclusive, gender equal world, my mother instantly popped into my mind.

About 20 years ago, my mother decided to leave the field of criminal justice to pursue a master’s degree in engineering and ultimately a career in technology, a field then that was still relatively new and just starting to evolve. Around this time I was at the age where I was becoming aware of the world and what I wanted to be. There were a range of jobs I imagined for myself – architect, astronaut, or engineer.

My mother held me to high expectations, and would often say, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” However, more importantly, she always stressed to me, “Kevin, the only thing that matters in life is how you treat other people.” This was demonstrated strongly in all of her volunteer work at public schools I attended, at our church, and with our local city government.

While reflecting on all of this, it sunk in how much I truly am where I am today because of my mother. Not just physically on this earth, but here at this point in my life and career, along with the mindset and values I have. Her ambition has encouraged me to challenge myself by pursuing a degree in aerospace engineering, yet also feed my passion by maintaining a relationship with art & design. My combination of interests has drawn me into a career that is progressive and fulfilling, yet unconventional in comparison to my peers from college. Her influence on my career has been so strong that our paths have actually converged, and we both work for the same company, Infosys Limited, my mother based in Boston, Massachusetts, and me based in our Palo Alto, California office.

More significantly, my mother’s compassion has inspired me to seek out opportunities to help others, including Infosys Foundation USA and the chance to volunteer my skills outside the office. Among the many endeavors of the Foundation, promoting and facilitating the presence of women in technology is something I’ve helped support without realizing the deeper and recursive benefits of until recently.

Infosys Foundation USA has helped me get involved with projects and organizations focused on computer science education and maker education initiatives. All of these efforts help to enable a future generation of creative thinkers and makers, and are inclusive of women. Ultimately, I see this leading to more ambitious people in our world, people who inspire us, people like my mother.

Considering this full circle view, I’m grateful to be involved with the work of Infosys Foundation USA. I’m even more thankful for my mother, her ambition, and encouragement to become part of this growing recursive circle of inspiration.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! Thank you for all that you do --- and have done for me.