Student-led ‘Girls in Tech’ readies for event Seniors use this towards their Capstone

Holding up tape, former senior Tiana Bhankoleing helps prepare for the first session. She taped paper squares on the floor for a game. Photo Credit: Shareen Basyari

After a change in advisers, seniors Shareen Basyari and Cali Javellana will be running the annual Girls in Tech event for their capstone on Friday, Dec. 7.

“In previous years, students only planned their own sessions but had no part in organizing the actual event itself,” Javellana said. “This year, Snehal Bhakta came up to us because his daughter is a student at the coding center we work for. He gave us the idea of talking to Holloway about doing the event as our capstone. [Snow] said yes right away and let us organize it all ourselves, while she was there to approve of things and help us out.”

After Community Partnership Coordinator Rebekah Holloway left in October, the new Community Partnership Coordinator Brian Lindemuth and Snow took over the event.

“The hardest part of being in charge of Girls in Tech this year has been losing Ms. Holloway,” Javellana said. “When we began working on Girls in Tech, she was the person we went to for questions and worked with her. Once she left, I felt there was a lost period and things were not as smooth as before. One thing we did have good control of was partnering up with the tech learning center we work for.”

Currently, 80 female students are confirmed to attend three presentations through 25-minute sessions related to their program area, such as cybersecurity or practicing client-to-coder scenarios.

When I was in college for Computer Science, I was the only girl in my class and my teacher told me that I should drop [the class] because I was distracting to the male students,” Web Design and Development teacher Denise Snow said. “I wanted to do Computer Science, so I stayed in the class. He gave me a hard time, he graded my harshly, but I stayed and I’ve been successful in the field since. I wanted to make sure girls are never in that situation again.”

The students will teach middle schoolers from Canarelli, Faiss and Tarkanian who will engage in activities related to Web Design, Digital Game Design, Engineering, Video Production, Graphic Design and Interior Design.

”Last year, what we did for the girls who went to video production was basically show them how to make our morning show,” senior Justine Verstigue said. “All of the girls were kind throughout this process and cooperative with us, it showed genuine interest about broadcast journalism. We plan to the same event this year, since we have different students coming in.“

Aside from the sessions, there will also be presentations and lunch in the Coyote Ballroom. Middle schoolers will be receiving prizes such as stickers and candy at the end of every session, which they can take home with complimentary drawstring bags provided by Code Central.

“Girls in Tech both shows girls a new career option and reminds them that they can work towards their passions,” Verstigue said. “It’s known that most tech careers are dominated by men and I have seen this. I’m the only girl out of all my coworkers for my IT internship. I think there’s a better comfort level working with other girls and knowing that you’re all trying to learn the same things at this event.“

Since the event will take place before first semester, Basyari and Javellana will spend the second half of the school year creating guidebooks for the next generation of seniors in charge of the event.

“I want to set an example for future leaders, especially those who are female,” Basyari said. “Planning Girls in Tech is a lot of work and requires more communication and planning than people think. If we make mistakes, it’s fine because the event coordinators after us can learn from what we do wrong.”

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