Meet Isabella: Building Community Through Code

“I thought it would be really cool if I could start a club of my own in my local community…”

Isabella is a CodeNow student and high school senior from Chicago. She founded Fox Valley Girls Coding Club in 2016 as a way for her and her friends to learn how to code. Join Isabella and the Fox Valley Girls Coding Club this 2017–2018 school year!

Why did you want to start a coding club?

Part of me just wanted to learn to code because I had learned about it while watching a documentary, that I believe was connected with Girls Who Code, where girls from all over the world created apps and got to go to California to pitch their app. The winner received prize money that enabled her to put her app into motion, and that really got me interested in coding. After watching that documentary, I thought it would be really cool if I could get some of my friends involved and start a club of my own in the local community.

Did you already know about coding when you watched that documentary?

I had never coded before. I was only a little aware of what coding was, but I didn’t know too much about it. I actually first heard about Girls Who Code while watching Project Runway with my family and one of the challenges was for the competitors to incorporate technology into fashion. After that, my mom and I did some research and eventually I decided to dive into learning how to code.

What was your process when it came to learning how to code?

I found female software developers in my area who were kind enough to offer their time and support as instructors for the club. But I also did some online learning through Khan Academy before going applying for CodeNow and Girls Who Code.

Why did you pick CodeNow?

I was looking for something to do over the summer where I’d be able to expand my coding knowledge. After I looked through the application, I talked to my mom about the logistics of attending the program because we had a vacation planned. Luckily, the vacation fell right in between the two workshop weekends so it was just a matter of making sure that I could get to and from the workshop on all four days.

What were your expectations going into the CodeNow workshop?

Going into the workshop, I wasn’t sure what we would be learning but I really enjoyed the program. I learned a lot of new information as well as being able to review some things that I had previously learned through my club. I really liked the fact that we worked in small groups because I was able to ask the instructors questions and walk through any things that may have been confusing.

“Coding is hard, but if you surround yourself with people who are supportive and as enthusiastic as you are it is much easier and more fun to learn.”

Now that you’re a senior in high school, what are your plans going forward?

When I apply to colleges this fall, I want to apply as a computer science major. I’m also thinking of minoring in something else like environmental science or political science. I think I will probably apply to 10 schools, but I’m still doing some last minute research to make sure that I’m not missing out on any potential schools.

Do you have any advice for students who may be interested in coding?

One piece of advice I would give other students is that if you think you are interested in learning how to code you should start a club, join a program, or find some other way to become part of a community of people who are also interested in learning to code. Coding is hard, but if you surround yourself with people who are supportive and as enthusiastic as you are it is much easier and more fun to learn.

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