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Community Spotlight: Veronica Veda (veronicanerak)

October 20th, 2015

Veronica Vedia (veronicanerak) organized Women in Drupal at DrupalCamp Bolivia in 2014 alongside Karen Da Cruz and several other women. Veronica shared the story of how she went from anonymous Drupaler to community evangelist over email with the Drupal Association. Parts of this Community Spotlight have been transcribed from a medium.com article that Veronica wrote on her experience coordinating Women in Drupal.

I started using Drupal approximately 4 years ago. At the time, I worked in front-end, and I did my work in multiple different languages and frameworks, like PHP, C#, and Microsoft’s .NET. I really enjoyed working in front-end, but wanted to get more specialized. At one point, a coworker told me about Drupal roles, and the idea of becoming a dedicated “themer” caught my attention. I decided to study Drupal on my own so I could leave that company and find another employer where I could work in Drupal as a themer.

I didn’t become very active in my local community until after Drupal Picchu in 2014 in Cusco, Peru. Before that, I had been a relatively passive participant in the Bolivian Drupal community. But when I heard about Drupal Picchu, I knew I had to go. I admit, the chance to travel to Machu Picchu was my main motivation, but I also knew that attending the Drupal workshops and talks would be very valuable.

When I got to Drupal Picchu, I was amazed at how many passionate people were at the event. There were people with so much experience and talent sharing knowledge from basic to advanced. It really caught my attention how so many people were generously sharing knowledge that they put so much effort into learning. It was a really encouraging experience for me.

The event’s keynote was on Women in Drupal, and was led by Karen Da Cruz, Nancy Contreras, Molly Byrnes, and Holly Ross, all of whom are very inspiring women in the industry. I found their stories very motivating, and wound up talking to Karen afterward. I told her, “I want to do the same thing in my country that you have done here.” So I got together with several other women in my local community, and together we made the Women in Drupal group a reality at DrupalCamp Bolivia 2014 several months later.

At DrupalCamp Bolivia, Karen and I gave a “Women in Drupal in Bolivia” workshop where we taught several women Drupal. The goal was to motivate everyone (but especially girls and women) who are learning Drupal. The workshop was a success and it was amazing how enthusiastic all of our attendees are. It wouldn’t have been possible without all the amazing women who came out to help us conduct the workshop and replicate the Drupal Picchu keynote on Women in Drupal. It was really fun to participate in both the workshop and the the keynote, and I had a great time speaking about my own experiences alongside Nancy Contreras (Peru), Karen (Peru), and Mariana Graf (Brazil).

Organizing an activity like Women in Drupal in Bolivia was really intimidating at first. I was worried that there might not be attendees, or that our activities wouldn’t be well received. But everyone was so encouraging and helped me realize that the important thing is the desire to share knowledge — it’s normal to feel fear, and it’s worth overcoming it in the end. Without help from Karen, Freddy Cahuas, and the other DrupalCamp Bolivia organizers, I wouldn’t have succeeded. It also made me realize that one day, you’re new to the community, and the next day, you’re daring to try something new for the community. It becomes a chain where everyone helps each other and the community grows, and I think it’s really powerful how it breaks across the boundaries of languages and cultures and brings us closer to each other.

In the future, I hope to help grow the community and the “Women in Drupal” events. I want to motivate many other girls and women to learn Drupal. It’s a world of endless opportunities and possibilities! To make this happen, I am always looking for help from the community. If anyone has examples of activities that I could share to help boost, improve, and motivate my local community group, I would love to hear from you.

Thank you to everyone who continues to participate and encourage each other to be part of this big family called “Drupal”!