Five Newark high school students graduated from Girls Who Code, an intensive summer program that was offered for the first time this year in Newark at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
From bottom left clockwise: Samirah Anthony, Niamber Stedman, Joanne Mouyniovng, Jennifer Dios, Deanna Rodriguez. Large photo: Rose Kirk, president of the Verizon Foundation, talks to students about their projects.
Samirah Anthony, a junior at North Star Academy College Preparatory High School, Jennifer Dios, a senior at Science Park High School, Joanne Mouyniovng, a junior at Science Park, Deanna Rodriguez, a junior at Technology High School and Niamber Stedman, a senior at University High School were among more than three dozen young women from throughout New Jersey who participated in the program, which was supported by the Verizon Foundation.
The program pairs more than 300 hours of instruction in web development and design, robotics, and mobile development with mentorship and exposure led by the industry’s top female engineers and entrepreneurs.
Girls Who Code is a national nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in the technology and engineering sectors. Support from the Verizon Foundation allowed Girls Who Code to offer the program for the first time in Newark.
"I’m excited about this program because it’s an ignition point that unleashes the extraordinary power and potential of young women and girls," said U.S. Senator Cory Booker, who addressed attendees at the graduation ceremony on Aug. 27.
The Verizon Foundation, in an effort to help further motivate girls to continue their education and consider a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, encourages Verizon’s senior female leaders to participate in the program.
Rose Kirk, president of the Verizon Foundation, pointed to the changing demographics in STEM fields.
"This change begets opportunity," she said. "Our society is becoming more diverse in its race, its thinking, and its power – and technology is at the nexus of innovation.”
Currently, women make up the majority of the labor force nationwide, but hold only 25 percent of the jobs in computing and technical fields. By 2020, there will be 1.4 million jobs available in the computing related fields, but women educated in the U.S. are only on pace to filling 3 percent of these positions.
"As incredible smart, determined young women, you are the change that our society needs, and you are the change companies in America – like Verizon, need also," Kirk said.
Sam Delgado, vice president of external affairs for Verizon New Jersey, said it was important to make the program available in Newark.
“This was a great opportunity for students from all over the state who share a similar interest to learn and interact with each other under the roof of one of the state’s great universities,” Delgado said. “Who knows, perhaps one of these students one day will create a game changer like Google or Facebook or Twitter.”