Sylvia Boamah ’22 Masters the Art of User Experience
When Sylvia Boamah ’22 discovered that front-end web development offered an outlet for her creative talents, she knew she had found her passion. As a software engineer associate at Chubb and a freelance web and graphic designer, Boamah is honing her ability to develop beautiful – and effective – user experiences.
As early as middle school, Sylvia Boamah ’22 knew that she wanted to pursue front-end web development. “Tumblr was very popular at the time,” she says. “I was always drawing and sketching in my spare time, and I loved that Tumblr allowed you to be creative. You could choose a theme for your blog and customize it to make it your own. I started practicing and soon I was learning HTML and CSS.”
By the time she started high school, Boamah was ready to join classes in electronics, building equipment such as audio speakers. “I had a teacher who believed in me, who suggested I take a look at Stevens,” she recalls. “When my guidance counselor also mentioned Stevens, I thought I should take a tour of this place!”
Boamah liked what she saw and decided to bring her excellent academic record and interest in front-end design to Castle Point.
“Stevens teaches you discipline,” Boamah shares. “It also allows you to develop your abilities in a broader way. For example, in addition to majoring in software engineering, I completed a concentration in UX design. For me, this meant taking design courses in the College of Arts and Letters.”
“My design professors helped me understand how I could combine my love for art with software engineering,” Boamah continues. “This encouraged me to connect art and technology in new and innovative ways.”
All of these paths converged for Boamah when she began thinking about her Senior Design Project. “I was working part time as an activities assistant at an assisted living facility that had a memory care unit,” she explains. “I started observing how music, images and routine affected the residents there. These are powerful mechanisms for jogging the memory.”
Boamah used her insights to develop an app called Recollect that uses personal videos, recordings and pictures as a memory-strengthening tool for those with memory-related ailments.
Upon graduating from Stevens, Boamah was recruited by insurance giant Chubb for its Technology Associate Program. “It has been a great segue into my field, and a wonderful introduction into the world of formal corporate work,” she says. “In my role as a software engineer associate, I am doing a lot of front-end Angular and CSS work. I’m part of a team that is really supportive, which is helping me develop as a professional.”
Boamah continues to cultivate her creative side as well. “I am pursuing certification in UX Design and I have a growing freelance practice,” she says.
In addition to Recollect, Boamah’s freelance projects have included integrating screens and finalizing user workflows for an iOS and Android mobile stock trading app; building a responsive interface that generates positive affirmations; and cultivating brand identities through logo design. “I also create graphic art when time and inspiration allow,” she adds.
Boamah’s increasing expertise as an artist and software engineer has been matched by her emergence as a leader. While a student, she served as the social chair of the Black Student Union and later as the organization’s president. “That was a challenging time,” she says. “We were going through lockdown and the switch to virtual learning, as well as the height of Black Lives Matter protests. I learned a lot about myself as a person, an advocate, and a leader.”
In 2021, Boamah served as an intern for the university’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. While there, she created a variety of workshops, including one that focused on neurodiversity in women. And in addition to earning Dean’s List honors during all of her semesters at Stevens, Boamah received the university’s Social Justice Advocate Award, the Program of the Year for Advocacy Award (alongside the Black Affairs Collective and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the SGA), and the Waldo Shumway Award, which was created to honor graduating seniors who significantly enhanced the life of the Stevens community.
Boamah returns to campus frequently to show her continued support for the Black Student Union and the National Society of Black Engineers. “I recently volunteered for a resume review, helping first-year students strengthen their resumes for internships,” she says. “I think it means a lot to them to see successful alumni who look like them. I could see the impact I was making on how they envision their future.”
Campus visits offer opportunities for Boamah to reminisce about her own experiences at Stevens, such as helping to organize the 2022 Unity Showcase. “The theme that year was resilience,” she recalls. “We had missed so much due to the pandemic. It was really nice to bring everyone together for the purpose of creativity and to learn about each other’s cultures.”
“When I started college, I didn’t see myself as a leader,” Boamah says. “But when I got involved, others saw my potential. That is why I encourage students to join clubs and communities that allow you to learn more about yourself. What others see in you in a safe space can positively transform how you see yourself.”