“I just might be a black Bill Gates in the making” -Beyonce, in Formation
Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
Hi! I’m 16-year-old, a junior in high school, and I got into computer science a little less than a year ago. I’ve always been really into the STEM subjects, which naturally led me to discover the wonders of tech. I discovered my love for computer science when I had gotten bored after finishing a Precalculus test early once, and I had made a program that “sang” ”Hello” by Adele on my graphing calculator. When I realised that this was just a really basic version of coding, I knew I had to learn more. After that, I had attended the San Francisco State University Summer Engineering Institute and the Kode with Klossy Scholarship program in Los Angeles. Even though I haven’t been coding for a long period of time, I know it is something I definitely want to pursue as a career. Because of my interest, I was awarded the NCWIT National Honorable Mention Award and the LA/OC Metro Affiliate Award, and will be attending Kode with Klossy Level Two in Los Angeles and the Apple Engineering Technology Camp in Cupertino this summer. I can’t wait to uncover more about this field and, hopefully, take the tech world by storm!
Fun Fact: I take my graphing calculator everywhere I go. It is more commonly known as the kalculator with accounts on Instagram and Twitter. And when I say everywhere, I mean everywhere, such as the beach, Disneyland, and Prom.
What # would define your life journey?
Favorite website / app:
VR! Think of all the places you could go and all the discoveries that could be made by tying Virtual Reality to research!
Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
Karlie Kloss. While being both a supermodel and a social media icon, she uses her presence to bring light to issues and events she cares about. She has built her own charitable initiatives from the ground up at such a young age, which truly inspires me to create change now, rather than waiting for when I am an adult with a B.S. in Computer Science. Additionally, she has instilled within me the notion that tech is a very malleable field in which you can apply your interests to create something entirely of your own. She is driven by philanthropy and is a strong feminist, which led her to launch the Kode with Klossy Scholarship Program. One day, I hope to combine my passions to create a nonprofit organisation, as well.
Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
Computer Science is a field heavily dominated by white men, which causes me, as a black woman, to feel consistently underrepresented. There may be times in which I am the only African American in a given group, whether it be my my AP Classes or my Science Olympiad team, though I am never the only girl. Unfortunately, this phenomenon of feeling completely isolated is almost guaranteed for women, namely those of colour. No one should feel out of place when pursuing what they love, though this is simply a reality for girls who choose to delve into tech. The only way to overcome an obstacle like this is to reach out to more women and girls and encourage them to explore all that coding has to offer. Outreach is incredibly important so that these communities know that there is a place for them in this field, and that their opinions and ideas are valid, and should be seen by all.
My parents were born in Kenya and Uganda, and I know they certainly did not take their education for granted. In East Africa, a full education is not something that is guaranteed, and I would really love to be the CEO of an organisation that travels to areas like these, delivering lessons in digital literacy, since we are shifting into the technological age, and these skills are becoming as vital as reading and writing.
What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Learning to code is such an invaluable skill to have, as it has cross sections in every industry. While many see coding as a science, code is very much a medium for expression and creativity, it is simply a new way we can all have our voices heard and share the issues that matter to each of us. Everyone has different ideas, different stories, different lifestyles, and computer science allows us to customize and create fixes to problems faced by ourselves or by others. Solutions to ailments that either impact a handful of people or the planet as a whole, lie within code, and you will only begin to unlock your limitless potential once you type “Hello, World” for the first time.