Meet Emma Berharry, a Code/Art alumna and student at Stanford University. Emma began her journey with Code/Art in 6th grade, where she participated in our clubs and competitions. She was a recipient of the 2022 Code/Art and Ingram Micro Cloud scholarship. Read the interview below for insights into her experience with Code/Art programs and how she plans to pursue a career in computer science.
When did you get started with Code/Art and how old were you then?
I started with Code/Art in 2016 while I was in 6th grade. I had always leaned towards STEM, specifically engineering. I was obsessed with video games! Near me at the University of Miami, they had a camp called ID Tech, it was a one-week program to get little kids into coding and engineering. I found out about Code/Art through my friend’s sister who was going to be a volunteer for the organization. My friends and I found Code/Art’s program intriguing and we decided to join.
What were some takeaways that you got from these experiences with Code/Art?
The greatest value from Code/Art was the community and the chance to be in an environment where female coders were the norm. There’s no pressure to raise your hand or feel self-conscious. Initially, it was a way for me to meet other people who were interested in coding beyond my school. I’d say having that sense of confidence and security built in your abilities during a young age was such a privilege. I don’t think I really appreciated it up until now at Stanford University.
Any notable Code/Art achievements you would like to mention or have a fond memory of?
Last year, I was one of five students awarded the Code/Art and Ingram Micro Cloud scholarship. That was a $4,000 scholarship put towards my future in college. I had the opportunity to speak with Amy Renshaw on behalf of Code/Art at a panel for the Ingram Micro Cloud Conference about what it means to be women in tech. The panel had perspectives of those already in the industry while including the perspective of the new generation of tech. It was my first time speaking on a panel!
Let’s talk about some future plans. What university are you going to and what are you planning to study?
I am attending Stanford University and studying computer science. Stanford has a specific program called co-terming where you do a fifth year and graduate with a bachelors and masters at the same time. Currently, I am doing research with the university regarding chatbots and making reinforcement learning more ethical for all. Code/Art helped ground the idea of diversity and ethics very early in my computer science education which now helps me in my research and academics.
What’s the most inspiring piece of advice you’ve ever received and what made you apply it to your life?
My parents would always say give 100% in anything you truly want to do. Whatever your goal is, no matter what it is, choose what you love and work towards that vision. I took that advice wholeheartedly. My school didn’t offer coding until senior year so I took the initiative and applied to programs, volunteered, and more.
To wrap up our interview, 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?
Definitely, I would recommend taking part in programs like Code/Art. It’s an amazing resource to discover if you like computer science. It’s such a valuable experience in more ways than I can really articulate. But I mean, to make new friends while learning and having fun is such a valuable experience. If I hadn’t done Code/Art, I wouldn’t have gone into AI in high school. If I hadn’t done AI, I wouldn’t have gone into advanced studies. And then I wouldn’t have had a chance to work with a Stanford professor in high school and then get a recommendation letter and attend the university. I think looking back Code/Art was really the starting point for me to get where I am today.