Written By Zacch Estrada-Petersen
College didn’t quite go exactly as planned for Kinston, NC native Monta Ormond. A skilled instrumentalist and singer, he went to UNC Charlotte in 2000 to pursue a music scholarship.
“I realized that music really wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” says Ormond. “I love it as a hobby, and something I could still enjoy on the side. But it wasn’t something I wanted to base my entire career off of.”
Once he made the decision to explore other options, he forfeited his music scholarship and initially showed interest in architecture. At the end of his freshman year, he realized there was a stringent 50-student acceptance cut-off for the College of Architecture, and headed back to drawing board, considering criminal justice or a technical path.
“Technology was always something that came naturally to me,” says Ormond. “Building and fixing computers and stuff like that was cool, so that’s kind of what got me in the field. I knew I didn’t want to do programming, but I knew I wanted to do something technical.”
He eventually narrowed his choice down to Software Information Systems.
“Software Information Systems is more diverse, from a degree perspective” says Ormond. “We had to do programming throughout our coursework, but we didn’t focus on it. It’s more of software foundation and going through more of the application level of things, versus focusing on the development of the software. It deals with what technology can be applied to various business problems.”
Looking back on it, he says he probably would have double-majored in music to maintain his scholarship, but at the time he was determined not to have a career in music. It wasn’t a total loss, though. Throughout college he was the lead keyboardist for the University’s student-run gospel choir at the time and several bands in the area, and today he is still involved with music teaching piano lessons, playing at this church, and some freelancing.
Ormond currently works as a Legal Technology Consultant at Bank of America, N.A., in their legal department, which some might view as an odd place for someone in his degree path.
“What I do is consult with attorneys and other legal team members regarding complex discovery issues and technology enhancements,” says Ormond. “I was fortunate to start in the electronic discovery industry when it was new in the legal industry many years ago. In college, we didn’t even have a course in forensics yet.”
While a student at UNCC, he worked/interned at the University‘s help desk and networking department, which served as a perfect segue to his first job in the field post-graduation. He started working at a law firm on a three-month temp assignment, which led to a full-time Network Administrator role there and him later being tasked with starting their first-ever Electronic Discovery department.
Coming from a rural town, there wasn’t much exposure to the latest technology in high school, which he admits put him and others at a bit of a disadvantage.
“The vast majority of the students in our department were foreign,” says Ormond, “And they had been programming since they were 12 or 13. Some of us hadn’t seen it until we came into the class.”
Despite the obstacles, Ormond went out of his way to glean as much information as he could from independent study, classes, superiors at his internships, etc., and advises that others do the same.
He has specific advice for other Black males as well:
“As minorities, don’t allow people’s perceptions of you and other stereotypes determine and steer your future. Take control of your destiny.”
The My Brother’s Keeper Scholarship at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte is an endowment fund targeted to Black males majoring in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields at UNCC. The "What They See Is What They'll Be" blog series, adopted from the motto of 100 Black Men of America, is a bi-weekly blog series featuring personal stories of Black men from the UNCC community who are actively engaged in those fields. The goal of the series is to serve as a source of information and inspiration to others aspiring to follow similar career paths. To learn more, or to contribute to the endowment fund, visit www.unccmybrotherskeeper.org.