Girl Who Codes

As seniors across the country are working hard on college applications, we are showcasing college application essays by iMentor students.

In her college application essay, Janet, a student at Lionel Wilson Prep in Oakland, Calif., shares how she discovered a love for coding. She is now a first-year student at UCLA.

One day, as I Google searched, I accidentally pressed “inspect.” What appeared were several letters and numbers arranged together in lines. A later search taught me that these symbols were the foundation for all apps and websites. I was fascinated with this other side of technology I never knew existed.

From busted Chromebooks to lack of technology instructors, I never had exposure to coding in high school. Because of my school's limited resources due to forced funding cuts on student activities, I decided to take it upon myself to sign up for Codecademy, to see if I enjoyed learning to code.

While I was coding, I discovered that I appreciated the freedom I had to design a myriad of things. I felt attachment to my coding projects. I took initiative and searched for summer programs where I could meet other individuals who were also interested in coding.

Janet with her mentor, Melody

I came across Girls Who Code, a program that strives to involve young girls in technology. For seven weeks at Twitter headquarters, I learned different coding languages and built strong relationships with other young women. Through this program, I improved my public speaking and social skills, and strengthened my ability to succeed as a woman in tech.

Coding led me to an internship this summer at OSIsoft. OSIsoft specializes in simplifying and displaying user data. Being the only Latina and student from Oakland, I had to learn to adapt to a new environment and not let my differences interfere with my learning. While I was at OSIsoft, I got exposure to life at a tech company, and collaborated with a team to build a Raspberry PI powered smart monitor that displays different modules, relaying data from OSIsoft's PI system.

I have been able to adapt to new environments whilst learning how to manage my time efficiently around multiple deadlines. I have always wanted to explore all of my academic interests and not allow my school's limited resources to prevent me from further learning. Now, I know that despite having disadvantages because of my background, I can learn anything and achieve my goals.