Meet Liliana: Volunteer Instructor and CodeNow Alum

“When there’s something that you want to do but you don’t know anything about it, it can be really intimidating and scary.”

Liliana started coding with CodeNow in 2013. After high school, Liliana went on to pursue her passion as a Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences AND Computer Science double major at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). She has since returned to CodeNow as a volunteer trainer.

What exactly does a Games and Simulation Arts and Science major study?

We study how to create games through story, coding, and art.

Did you always have an interest in this area?

I had a lot of ideas as to what I wanted to do when I was in high school. Initially, I was going for a musical career until I realized that I wanted to be an astronomer because I liked math and physics. But during my junior year of high school, a friend introduced me to CodeNow. My initial thought on going to the workshop was, eh, I’d give it a shot. I loved learning and I always saw hackers as really smart and really cool. So I figured I may as well try it.

How much did you know about coding before your friend introduced you to CodeNow?

I didn’t code. I had always wanted to try coding but it just seemed so scary to me. When there’s something that you want to do but you don’t know anything about it, it can be really intimidating and scary.

When did coding become less scary?

I was lucky because the CodeNow workshop that I went to was one of the first ones where students worked in small groups and I had a really good trainer lead my group. He kept my group really engaged and interested in the project that we were working on. After CodeNow, I did a few online coding tutorials and joined my school’s Science Olympiad where I was able to get into Scratch. Eventually, I got really involved with the club, and we ended up getting 2nd place at Game On, which is a hackathon-like event where participants have one hour to create a game based on a theme that is given during the event.

When did pursuing a career in technology actually become an attainable goal?

During my junior year, I had a talk with one of my teachers about what I wanted to do for college. I mean, I’ve been playing video games my entire life and animation is my favorite thing in the world. I realized that if I could study video games, I would be able to learn about everything that I like.

One interesting fact is about you is that you have been both a student and a volunteer trainer at the CodeNow workshops. What has that experience been like?

I’ve volunteered at about three or four workshops now, and I really enjoy it. The friend who introduced me to CodeNow ended up studying computer science also and we’ve even volunteered together at a workshop. I think the fact that I’ve been through the program myself really helps because I’ve been there and I know what the students are going through.

What do you wish you knew before starting college?

I wish I knew how to file taxes, how to keep a budget, how to clean a house (toilet, specifically), how to plan trips, and how to write a cover letter. But I think I’ll be fine 😆

Liliana looks forward to building up her portfolio, taking on upper level courses, and volunteering at upcoming CodeNow workshops. Her current game of choice is Overwatch, and you can follow her on Github to see what she has been working on.

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