We had the good fortune of connecting with Courtney Revada-Luz and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Courtney, can you share a quote or affirmation with us?
There is a Russian proverb that says: “Akula, kotorya Ne plavayet, Ne tonet”. It means that “The shark that doesn’t swim, drowns.” What it means to me is that no matter how hard life is you got to keep moving forward. I grew up in foster care without guidance or help and it felt like survival every single day, yet I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I knew that if I kept my head up and moved forward daily I would be able to handle anything that life threw at me. Sharks are revered for never forgetting they are a predator in the ocean who will do what it takes to live no matter how scary the ocean is or if it gets hurt along the way. I embodied the same image by never forgetting who I am as I moved forward towards my image of success.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am currently a Senior Software Engineer at a company called Optum. I am really proud of this opportunity because I earned the senior title after only 3 years of coding and being self taught. It came with a lot of sacrifice because for those 3 years I would code daily before work, after work, and sacrifice my weekends in order to get better.

I got to where I am today by taking risks by applying to jobs I am unqualified for, spending countless hours working on my craft, and most importantly never forgetting my “why”. The main lesson I learned that I would pass on to others is that failure is not a bad thing. But rather a necessary stepping stone in order to achieve success. You will never know where to grow if you never fail. As long as you continue to get up after each failure then you will always be a step closer to the goal or dream you always wanted.

I want the world to know that I aim to represent possibility. Which means that anything is possible and success can and should belong to any and everyone. Growing up in foster care came with the stigma that because you don’t have parents and that you are a ward of the state, you will amount to nothing or end up incarcerated. It is through my foster care experience I learned I can be anything I want and what I wanted to be was successful. As I aim to represent possibility, I remind others that success is not some esoteric and elusive ideal that only the privileged can achieve. Rather it is something we can achieve if we work hard towards our own goals and vision of success.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If a friend was visiting here in Sacramento, California I would start our day off by getting coffee at Temple coffee roasters before heading to Fox and Goose on R street for breakfast. Take a hike at Clementine falls which is about 30-40 minutes northeast of Sacramento for some outdoor fun and grabbing lunch at the Lazy Dog restaurant. Have a nice evening tour of the Crocker Art museum. For dinner we would head back to R street which is packed with tons of restaurants. Have a drink or two at Device Brewery and having tacos at Mas Taco Bar.

Some of my favorite things to do is heading to the aquatic center in Folsom and going kayaking or paddle boarding. The aquatic center is near bike and hiking trails as well so you can unleash the outside adventure side. Midtown is the best place for local food and trying new coffee roasters.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to shoutout Dr. Eric Thomas the Hiphop Preacher. Dr. Eric Thomas is a black motivational speaker who fought from poverty to being one of the most recognized and influential speakers of my generation. I would listen to his speeches daily to either get encouragement for the day or to help push me when I needed it most. His words have gotten me through many dark times, and also reminded me of why I am fighting so hard for the life I want to live.

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