Graduation season just wrapped up in the US and the class of 2020 has already accomplished many firsts (at least in recent memory): navigating school closures, learning through a global pandemic, and celebrating through digital graduations. As high school students start this next phase of their lives, what they learned in high school is shaping their goals and aspirations for the future. For example, Black+ and Latinx+ students who take advanced computer science (CS) in high school are 7–8 times more likely to major in CS in college. And we look to the future, careers in fields that use coding and computer science skills are growing significantly faster than many other job categories and offer high earning potential.
And while it is critically important for students to have access to these foundational learning opportunities in high school, today, lower income schools are 4X less likely to offer CS learning opportunities. Even when schools do offer a CS course, the demographics of the classroom do not mirror that of the overall education system. In California, Black+, Latinx+, and American Indian/Alaska Native students make up 60% of the overall school population but only 15% of Advanced Placement CS A test-takers.
That’s why last year, through a $10M Google.org grant, the Kapor Center and Equal Opportunity Schools, alongside many other organizations, launched the Rising STEM Scholars initiative to place and support 3,000 students of color and low income students in Bay Area AP STEM and CS classrooms. This program was designed to work closely with schools to offer CS learning courses, ensure that diverse students are identified to take the courses, and that students receive wraparound support to be successful in the class and beyond.
This summer, 30 high school seniors who are affiliated with the Rising STEM Scholars program, are attending a Google Computer Science Summer Institute. This 4 week program, which is virtual this year, will give them the opportunity to be an active part of a peer community interested in CS, learn coding and other skills, and connect with a dedicated team of 15 Google volunteers.
As this year’s cohort kicks off, we connected with them to hear more about what motivated them to participate and what they want the world to know about the class of 2020:
What are you most excited about learning as part of the Computer Science Summer Institute program?
“I’m excited to learn more about web development but more importantly just problem solving in general!”- Daniel, Westmont High School
“I am excited about strengthening my knowledge of code! I would like to pursue a career in the technology field so learning how to code is a great skill for me to have.”- Nadirah, Castro Valley High School
“I’m most excited about getting to interact with new people who share my love for learning and computer science.” — Jasmine, Bishop O’Dowd High School
There is lots of talk about how different the experiences will be for the class of 2020 given school closures and the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. What would you want to say to the world about the experiences or potential of the class of 2020?
“I want to say that although the class of 2020 might not experience the typical college experience, we will thrive and become stronger as a result. We are still going to do great things, and this crisis will inspire more people to go into fields of study that will help to prevent a crisis like this. The class of 2020 is going to change the world for the better.” -Alexis, Live Oak High School
“The more difficulties we face, the stronger we become. We can utilize the time being in quarantine and stay-at-home to learn and become more aware of what we want to know about the world and manifest our passion through the hard work and experiences we accumulated along the way.”- Daniel, Westmont High School
“We may not have had a traditional graduation or high school experience, but we graduated mid pandemic and revolution. I think that breaking out of tradition takes a lot of strength, and the class of 2020 is just that, powerful!”- Madeeha, El Cerrito High School
We’re excited to be kicking off this program with this amazing group of scholars and will share more as the summer goes along! Class of 2020, we’re cheering you on and can’t wait to see all that you accomplish.