Meet Isa Delionado, a Code/Art alumnus and recent high school graduate headed to Brown University. Isa joined Code/Art in middle school as a CodeHER club member and eventually became a lead instructor of the club she was in. We had the opportunity to meet with her and see what she’s been up to now that she’s graduated from the Code/Art programs. Read the interview below for insights on her experiences with Code/Art and how she plans to continue in pursuit of a tech career.
When did you get started with Code/Art and how old were you then?
I started with Code/Art when I was in 7th grade, so I was 12-13 years old. When I first started, my school club was part of Girls Who Code and we participated in Code/Art Fest. During my 8th grade year, we became part of Code/Art.
Were you also part of any competitions in addition to being part of the clubs?
Yes, I participated in Code/Art Fest and coded my own self portraits as well as some of the other competitions throughout my time as a student.
What were some takeaways that you got from these experiences with Code/Art?
Well, really, it helped change the way I viewd technology. The purpose of the entire organization is to show students the creative possibilities of technology, and before [Code/Art], I was never really exposed to that. Being part of the clubs really changed how I view technology and also how I approach problems. It also allowed me to connect with other girls who have similar interests as me and learn to collaborate and work together to create projects. So, yeah, it really gave me insight into what working in tech could look like and gave me the opportunity to really develop relationships with other [similarly-interested] girls.
Of the projects you worked on within your Code/Art club, were there any that really stood out to you?
In 7th grade, as part of our end of year [assignment], we made this group project that was inspired by a game—I think it’s called Spent—where, basically, you’re given a budget and you have to go through different situations and it’s supposed to give insight and educate people on the situation that low income families face during their day to day. We made a game similar to that but instead focusing on gender bias in the workplace. It was a very simple game that we made—using Scratch—but I really liked planning the different scenarios , researching it and being able to learn more about this issue and how to overcome it [to create the game].
That’s wonderful. Let’s talk about some future plans. Having recently graduated high school, what university are you going to and what are you planning to study?
I’m going to Brown University and I’m planning on studying engineering and possibly also computer science. Right now, I am planning on entering as a biomedical engineer and concentrating in computer science—that’s still up in the air, but the end goal is for me to go into tech.
Do you think that Code/Art played a role in your decision to go into tech?
I think it did because, really, prior to Code/Art, I hadn’t been exposed as much to technology and the different career paths that I could have—and really see what being an engineer and being a coder looked like.
I also think that Code/Art clubs helped me develop confidence in myself especially since [computer science] is a male dominated field.
Even in 7th grade, I remember seeing presentations on Imposter Syndrome and overcoming it by being able to recognize it. It was defintely something I felt, but it didn’t have to be something that stopped me. Being introduced to the Code/Art community at a young age allowed me to develop confidence to then be able to pursue all the different things that I want to pursue.
That’s really great to hear. Considering your experience, would you—when talking to a younger girl—recommend that they take part in programs like Code/Art and if so, why?
I definitely would. I always encourage the young girls that I’ve gone to school with to look into these programs.
I’ve been a Code/Art instructor now for the past two years and I just think that it is incredibly important for girls to have the space to try something new, to be with other girls like them and encourage each other, and also to have the space to ask questions and make mistakes and feel comfortable enough to really develop into themselves.
I also think it’s important for girls to have the experience to learn to code—even if they’re not necessarily interested in pursuing computer science. I think that [being part of a Code/Art club] develops such important life skills—such as working with other people and building something from scratch. Even if they don’t want to go into computer science or engineering, they still have these valuable skills that they can carry with them into other parts of their life.
That’s so true. You mentioned that you had been an instructor for some time. What was the experience of teaching younger students?
I really enjoyed it because I was in their position at one point. After 8th grade, I was invited back to be a teaching assistant. So I went back to teach the club I had been a part of and then eventually became the lead instructor and I kept doing it until my senior year. I think that having the experience as a student really helped me relate to the girls [I taught] and understand how they were feeling and try to make [the club] engaging—and also to try to be that person for them that inspires them to want to pursue this or at least to enjoy the club and want to come back to class. It’s also given me a greater appreciation for the experiences that I had as a 13 and 14 year old [in the club].
That wraps up our interview. Thank you for sharing your story with us!