Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce  series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.
Guest blog post by Rolena Chuyate, Information Technology Specialist, Administrative and Management Systems Division for the U.S. Census Bureau
I work as an Information Technology (IT) Specialist in the Administrative and Management Systems Division (AMSD) for the U.S. Census Bureau. My key responsibilities include supporting the applications software within the AMSD Division as well as supporting the Commerce Business Systems (CBS). My job requires a combination of trouble shooting and problem solving as well as providing customer support. My entire professional career has been in public service of which 25 years have been at the Census Bureau. At the Census Bureau, I have worked in different IT fields – as a UNIX, Linux, and VAX/VMS System Administrator, as a Systems Analyst responsible for installing/configuring SAS software, and as a C programmer. Prior to that, I worked for the USDA in Austin, TX as a Mathematical Statistician.
From 2003 to 2006, I was given an opportunity to serve as a liaison to the Census Bureau’s Advisory Committee on the American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) population. The AIAN Committee is one of the Census Bureau’s Five Race and Ethnic Advisory Committees (REAC) which provide a continuing channel of communication between the AIAN community and the Census Bureau. Serving as a liaison, gave me an opportunity for better understanding of the Decennial operations at the Census Bureau. It also provided an insight of how the Census Bureau worked with the AIAN Committee in obtaining an accurate count of the American Indian population.
I’m a native New Mexican, born and raised on the Zuni Pueblo. I’m a member of the A:shiwi (Zuni Tribe) born into the Badger clan and child of the Bear clan. I grew up in a family of 7 siblings. My father worked for the Park Service and was gone most of the time. He died when I was a teenager. So the most influential person in my life is my mother. My traditional values and beliefs including my native language come from her. She also instilled the importance of family and education in me. Through her influence, I continued my education beyond high school. And I go back home to my native home land whenever I can for ceremonial and religious events.
Academically, I received my Bachelors of Science degree in Mathematics from New Mexico State University in 1980. In 1985, I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Technology with an emphasis in Electronics from New Mexico State University. Then in 2006 I received my Masters Degree in Information Technology in Project Management from George Washington University.
When I first started my career, the IT industry was mostly a male dominated field. While the industry has changed to include more women, there is still a vast under representation of Natives in this field. As we celebrate National Native American Heritage month, I encourage Native students to pursue a field in Information Technology. Although, being an IT Specialist can sometimes be stressful, it does provide tremendous rewards as well. I’m very fortunate that I had the opportunity to have taken this career path.