Ilona Bodnar · High School Senior · Piedmont High School, Oakland

Ilona Bodnar

Ilona Bodnar · High School Senior · Piedmont High School, Oakland

In 10th grade, Ilona had an itch to learn how to code. She wanted to know how computers work, so she taught herself Python and JavaScript using Codecademy. Ilona was so empowered by her newfound skills that she had to spread her knowledge with other girls at her high school. She founded the Technovation Challenge Club in her Junior year and taught a group of 10 girls how to build mobile apps. The club has two teams of girls that compete in the Technovation Challenge, where teams work on mobile app development. Last year as part of the challenge, Ilona built JobFish, an app that facilitates connecting teens and adults with jobs and internships.

Hungry to learn more, Ilona delved into hardware. Last summer, she participated in Girls Who Code, sponsored by Intel and Stanford University, where she built a security system with the Intel Galileo Arduino controllers. On May 30–31st she’s facilitating a Makeathon for a Robot Petting Zoo with TechHive, which is free event where high school students can get a fun introduction to programming and engineering. Participants will team up and spend two days making and programming a robotic pet, which they will showcase to kids and families from the Bay Area at our “Robot Petting Zoo.” She’s currently raising money for computers, robotics kits, craft supplies, a venue, and food. You can donate here: http://bit.ly/1DBj4ov

This summer Ilona has an internship at Disney Pixar teaching a group of girls through Girls Who Code and learning animation. Next fall Ilona will start her degree in Computer Engineering and Computer Science at The University of Southern California. Fight on!

Ilona is most proud of the fact that she’s kept pushing herself and learning, and that she doesn’t let herself get discouraged. Her advice is to “Don’t give up! Look for support systems around you to help you figure out how to code and how to push through the tough times. Don’t let stereotypes define you.”