Gunter, 40, grew up near Orlando, raised by her hard-working single mother. When she was 11 or 12, her mom bought her a Commodore 64 computer, the best-selling personal computer at the time, which cost $595 (about $1,400 in today’s dollars). That set the young girl on a path of trying to understand how to program computers and use them to transform reality.
In high school she led an organization started by her principal called the Committee on Black Excellence. In that role she lobbied the school’s teachers and other leadership to find alternatives to suspending students who were struggling in school. “I knew deep down that they needed the same love, attention and guidance I received.”
Gunter parlayed the support of her family and her teachers into a stellar high school transcript. A guidance counselor suggested she consider majoring in computer engineering, a path that requires the learner to understand both the hardware and software aspects of technology.
“I thought computer engineering would make me more versatile and more marketable,” she says. “I wanted a better quality of life, and I knew education was the key to that.”
In the 1990s, Gunter attended the University of South Florida, located in Tampa, Florida and studied computer engineering, then attended Georgia Tech for a master’s degree in electrical engineering. She started her career as a design engineer, with Freescale Semiconductors formerly known as Motorola, where she did extensive work designing microcontrollers for air bags and anti-lock braking systems and other electronic components for automobiles.
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