She++ Code Day, 2016
Sometimes, you don’t know what you need until it happens.
When organizing She++ Code Day, an event meant to inspire and educate students in my old high school school district, I wanted girls to feel empowered. I wanted them to feel like how I felt after leaving Girls Teaching Girls to Code almost two years ago. I wanted them to feel like they could major in Computer Science if they wanted to.
And you know what? I think they did. I’m very happy with how the day turned out. It started with two amazing keynote speakers, and this is where I got inspired too. This is where I didn’t know I needed it.
Kicking the day off, Erin Parker spoke about how she didn’t major in a technical field. She majored in Econ, which was what I applied to college thinking I’d pursue. Now, she’s an iOS and Rails developer, and honestly? Pardon my language, but she is kick-ass goals. Like, make-me-want-to-run-as-much-as-I-did-in-high-school goals. I hope I develop an iOS app like her. I can’t believe I first started emailing her through CodePath University (something else she does), and I am so glad I was a part of CodePath just because I got to know her.
As if that wasn’t enough, Square’s Gloria Kimbwala spoke about Imposter Syndrome. This was what really resonated with me and the whole room( all 75+ attendees) I think, because it is something everyone feels. (How did so many people find out about the event? I just used Facebook, Eventbrite, fliers at local schools, and NCL email — anyways, yay!) This was something I really needed to hear, and it felt good, honestly. Gloria is also #goals. It’s ironic because I began emailing her when I got my (third) Code Camp rejection. It’s amazing how connections are made, and how I thought, “hmm, Diversity at Square — that would make a good speaker at Code Day!”
The panel followed, and it was slow at first. I asked a few questions, and I think they got better after a few minutes. It was interesting to hear from Theresa Ma, a Yelp intern from UToronto, Mayuko Inoue of Intuit’s iOS team, TenXList founder Shriya Nevatia, SJSU graduate student Khushali Desai, and Michael Ellison of CodePath. It’s important to remember that diversity isn’t just about gender (despite the name, She++ is open to both genders — so there was a mix of the two in the audience as well.)
I talked with some high school students I know from tennis, National Charity League, and just from the neighborhood, and they were all impressed with the workshops in addition to the speakers. Shriya taught UX Design, which is something I’m interested now, after beginning work with it at my externship in Oakland (will probably blog more about that later.) Khushali taught Android development, John Wilson (my brother’s best friend from middle school) taught Python and did Monte Carlo simulations, Gloria taught Ruby, Horace (yes, the Horace from SG50Hack this summer) did a Meteor.JS demo, and Cindy Liu, a high school tennis foe-turned UC Berkeley CS student and Cal Hacks organizer (okay, she beat me each time, but it was still a rivalry in my mind), did web design. My mom, Andrea and Elise (high school best friends), and Vivian (a friend’s good friend) helped a lot with setup. Andrea and Elise being there, even though they aren’t into coding, meant so much.
I’m so grateful for Square, Andreessen Horowitz, Pinterest, Intuit, and Yelp for the swag, mentors, and support. I feel more confident and more organized (shoutout to high school student government for giving me some event-planning experience), but more importantly, inspired. Inspired by meeting people doing great things. Inspired by seeing high school girls enjoy coding. And inspired to trudge on to a new semester.