When the Indy Tech Fellowship Class of 2016 celebrated the end of their time together in May 2018, they invited their peers to say a few words about their experiences in the program. Program graduate Nathan Nieman offered his take on the fellowship and what it meant to him. Below is the speech he gave at the celebration dinner.

Tech Fellows are … Tech Fellows are Builders. Tech Fellows are Innovators. Tech Fellows are Raising the Bar. These are the words that scrolled across the application page for the newly created Indy Tech Fellowship. We weren’t sure exactly what we were getting into. We entered into a brand new program with the opportunity and responsibility of having a hand in the making of our own experience. The results of that opportunity have been the relationships, events, learning experiences and growth that have taken place over the last two years.

We’ve had crash courses and lightning talks, pumpkin carving and gift exchanges. We have mentored high school students and helped to foster their interest in a tech-enabled career. As we’ve moved through our fellowship it has been a joy to see how these students have matured and connected with each other over the course of their own program.

We’ve shared movies together and won hackathons. We’ve heard hours of stories from tech leaders in Indianapolis and we’ve seen the difference that empowered and motivated individuals can have on a community. We’ve shared countless meals together, some even cooked ourselves. We’ve put down the laptops and traveled to cabins to connect “off the grid” or as off the grid as tech fellows get. Even off the grid we find time for the latest technology. I’m reminded of a certain drone piloting mishap which sent a new drone directly from launch into a lake. Don’t worry, no drones were harmed in the making of this fellowship.

Now that my time in the tech fellowship is coming to a close, one of the hardest changes for me will be, as you might expect, my wardrobe. For the past two years I’ve been provided a steady flow of TechPoint branded apparel. The t-shirts, jackets, and my favorite, my Indy Tech Fellowship bandana, have provided me more than enough choices for my daily wear. You know, I’m told that you can actually pay money for t-shirts instead of getting them exclusively from volunteer events. I’m actually pretty excited to see how that works.

As I more seriously reflect on my time in the Tech Fellowship, I would be remiss to review the last two years without celebrating and thanking all of the leaders who have made that experience possible. To Sally, Nichole, Fran, Al, and Merillat as well as the rest of the TechPoint team: on behalf of the graduating tech fellows, thank you for your vision, drive, and follow through. Thank you to our fellowship exec board, who have dedicated hours to planning and executing many of the events that have made the fellowship what it is. Thank you to a particular catering company, which will go … Nameless. And finally, thank you to the many guests here tonight who have supported and mentored fellows throughout their time in the fellowship. This program would not have been possible without a community filled with leaders such as yourselves just waiting for a chance to help and serve others.

We have seen changes to the Tech Fellowship during our two years in the program. We have adapted and have worked to create the most rewarding experiences that we could for both the first and second classes of the fellowship. We leave the fellowship with the hope and expectation that our second class will use their remaining time to foster a similarly rich and worthwhile experience. We recognize the time that we’ve spent in the first class of the Indy Tech Fellowship as a special time in our careers and our post-grad lives. It is difficult to say what my last two years would have looked like without the community that I have been surrounded with, but I can say that it would be missing the rich relationships and growth I’ve experienced surrounded by my fellow Fellows.

Tech Fellows are … Tech Fellows are Builders. Tech Fellows are Innovators. But most of all to me, Tech Fellows are Friends.

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