Girls Who Code

My first experience with coding goes back to when I was in 5th grade. I still remember how much I hated it. My father had an overseas assignment and we went to live in India for 2 years. There I learnt QBASIC and logo, languages which you may not have heard of. And that's a good thing.The instruction was dry and boring and non-intuitive; I lost interest! That’s an unlikely story for someone who plans on majoring in computer science!

6 years later, Girls Who Code has reinforced how much I now love computer science! Somewhere between living in India for two years and coming back to high school in the Silicon Valley, I decided to give CS another chance. At my middle school, we had an app competition and my team designed and built an educational game about the civil war with Corona and Balsamiq. We got to pitch our apps to a panel of VC’s judging the event at the Moore Foundation and we won! From that point on I was hooked - I realized I could build software myself! Next, I started learning basic Java. It was fun, quick, and intuitive. And I absolutely loved it!

And this Friday rounded off the most amazing four weeks ever. I had the opportunity to be a part of the first Girls Who Code SIP Level 3 program. Along with 19 other awesome girls, I was able to spend a month at VMWare learning about computer science and developing my own app. My high school isn't very computer science heavy, so having the ability to be a part of such a program was a privilege. Starting off with the first day, the teaching staff established a safe and fun learning environment. And since all 20 of us had come into the program with some CS experience (thanks to the pilot program!), each person brought something new to the table, so working in groups was awesome. From workshops on virtualization to the incredible food to the field trips to spirit week to the "cloud room" to an awesome working environment and group of girls, I miss everything about the last four weeks. As I'm writing this blog post, I'm a bit sad that my Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program is over, but I'm excited for what the future will bring.

Having the experience to work at a company like VMWare was a treat. It made me realize all of the paths I can pursue in computer science. All of the speakers were so inspirational and I am amazed to see all of the women in technology making such a difference in the world and feel honored that we got to meet some of them personally. We got to meet amazing women engineers like Yanbing Li, Robin Matlock, and Lily Chang. One of our speakers, Leah McGowan-Hare, during our second week talked to us about not giving up other passions when on the computer science path. That really resonated with me. I love design and computer science, but I also love choir, and student government. Seeing someone who had successfully explored all of her passions, made me realize that there is not just one fixed path for someone who wants to study CS. There are so many opportunities out there, you just have to step out of your comfort zone and grab them. Girls Who Code was a stepping stone that made me realize that I can pursue computer science, and the only thing that can stop me is myself.

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