Congrats, Graduates!

August 24, 2016

Written by
 Jessy FrydenbergEmployee Communications Intern

A non-profit organization that once started with a mere 20 girls in New York, Girls Who Code is now a national program in 42 states with over 10,000 participants. The program is dedicated to exposing young girls to the technology and computer science fields with the goal of closing the gender gap in the tech industry.

For the third year, Adobe was one of the companies offering an intensive seven-week summer immersion program teaching 11th and 12th graders the basic concepts of coding while creating a network of professional role models. In addition, Adobe was the only partner with employees serving as both teachers and mentors.

In total, 150 Adobe employees and 60 summer interns gave their time and talents to working with 100 motivated and talented high school girls in San Francisco, Seattle, New York and San Jose. Paired with female Adobe mentors, the girls fully immersed themselves in technology and educational workshops. The girls also visited other tech companies in the Valley to see the vast opportunities available to them. And today, we are celebrating their graduation!

Ready to Begin Changing the World

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Forty students in the two Adobe San Jose programs successfully completed the program last week.

Over the first five weeks of their intensive summer program, the girls learned the basics of coding in multiple languages. They then spent their final two weeks creating projects in teams of two to five. At the ceremony, each team of girls shared the valuable skills they had learned by pitching their final projects to the audience. Projects ran the gamut, from educating users on nutrition and student procrastination, to teaching millennials about politics or history, to helping individuals become or find mentors.

“You have to be able to pick something up quickly and from day one, we have been thrown into random languages,” Sara Wolff said. “For the final project, I coded part of it in Java but I’ve never done Java before. It was because of the skills I’ve gained in this program that I could pick the language up comfortably and do it.”

Sara and her teammates Maricel Vicente, Nicole Chui, Brittney Solorio, Sara Wolff and Preeti Naidu created an anxiety and stress relief tool called Breathe that provides users with a simple, uncluttered meditation and relaxation application. Using soothing pastel colors and an intuitive interface and features with straightforward breathing guidance, the girls hope that users feel calmer and take a moment to breathe and reflect upon themselves.

27545947530_74b00932bb_oEdith Gonzalez and Jena Refuerzo both have a passion for helping others and are heavily involved in their communities and schools, which is how their idea for Chip In came to life. Using HTML, CSS, JavaScript and Bootstrap, they created a website that encourages high school students to “chip in” to their communities by volunteering or hosting a drive. “We have the cause, you have the effect, chip in and help your community today,” Jena said.

When asked what their favorite memories of this summer were, both Jena and Edith immediately highlighted the friendships. Edith reflected on their first week and how they were all too shy to talk to one another but are now so comfortable around each other. “We will definitely carry these friendships on after the program” she said.

Ayushi Srivastava, one of the student speakers, stood proudly in front of her peers as she smiled and said, “Girls Who Code has given this awkward girl the chance to give this graduation speech and the knowledge that all of us can make a difference in the virtual and the real world.”

A Token of Encouragement

Janice Peters, Girls Who Code program manager, closed the ceremony with words of thanks and encouragement as well as a little surprise that the girls didn’t see coming – keeping their laptops – which was met with squeals of excitement. “All we ask is that you put them to good use,” Peters said. “Use your creativity, your energy, your talent and your minds to the fullest extent.”

We have no doubt that this is exactly what our Girls Who Code graduates will do. “I can write lines of code and actually change people’s lives,” Sara Wolff said. “I guess that’s why I want to go into computer science.”

Congratulations to all of our Girls Who Code graduates! We can’t wait to see what you accomplish in the future!

Photos courtesy of our Girls Who Code teaching assistants Maggie Chang, Rachel Min, and Erinna Woo.