The student news site of Jones College Prep High School


The student news site of Jones College Prep High School


The student news site of Jones College Prep High School


Girls Who Code, after graduation

How Girls Who Code have used their skills in college
Photo credit to Kathryn Harper ’23

The Girls Who Code club at Jones College Prep, which aims to involve girls in the computer science field, began online in 2020 and has since put accomplished students in college making a difference and gaining opportunities very early in their computer science careers.

Kathryn Harper ‘23, a first-year student at Harvard University and Computer Science major, credits Girls Who Code as an organization that prepared her for Ivy League-level courses.

“I truly believe that it’s because of Jones that, at Harvard, I am able to take such advanced classes,” said Harper, former Girls Who Code co-president. “The classes I’m taking right now some people take their junior year, senior year, but I’m taking very advanced CS classes so that I’m able to work and comprehend with people who are, I’d say at a higher level than someone who should be coming in as a freshman.”

Xiaolin Liu ‘22, a second-year Northwestern University student double majoring in Computer Science and Data Science, says communicating the language of computer science was a key concept learned in Girls Who Code.

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“It taught me how to communicate computer science more than developing my technical skills,” said Liu, a Girls Who Code co-president from 2021-22. “Coding is a language but if you have no experience with it it can be hard to understand people who do it or what they’re trying to say. I learned most of my communicating computer science skills from that period of my life.”

Sanya Sharma ‘21, who works at Motorola part-time and was an original founding member of the Girls Who Code JCP Chapter, says Girls Who Code was founded at Jones to encourage female students to participate in STEM courses.

“I thought there wasn’t enough awareness because a lot of my girlfriends were so smart and were interested in STEM but I think they didn’t see enough people taking those classes and they weren’t signing up for them,” said Sanya Sharma, a third-year student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Sejal Sharma ‘20, UIUC graduating class of 2023 and fellow Motorola employee with her sister, credits Jones computer science teacher Michael Kolody with her interest in the field.

“I’d say [CSA] was the most impactful class in high school for me,” said Sejal Sharma. “Mr. Kolody always likes to discuss other things that are happening in CS as well, so he talked about security topics, some AI topics, and even some data structures instructions which I think provides a really good foundation for what you’ll be doing in college.”

Sejal Sharma is one of many former Girls Who Code members to gain an internship so quickly out of high school.

“In my second year of school, I applied for an internship and got it here [Champaign, IL] at Motorola Solutions and did it for two summers before converting to a full-time role here.”

Many of these opportunities have pleasantly surprised Kolody.

“The Amazon thing I think took us all by surprise. I think these first-year Google internships I think I was at least as excited about that, too,” said Kolody.

Kolody says computer science is an incredibly applicable field across any and all areas of study, exemplified by a UChicago student Kolody read about who worked with the Trismegistos database, an online database of ancient text.

“And I think it can enhance all sorts of different areas you might not expect,” said Kolody.

Diversity in computer science is growing, as seen by Sanya Sharma at UIUC, a school where 79.4% of computer science BS graduates are male.

“U of I has a pretty good computer science program and I think there’s so many smart and cool people here and you get to meet people with different interests, backgrounds of course, things that they are looking forward to,” said Sanya Sharma.

Girls Who Code was created to bring a sense of togetherness among its members, according to Sanya Sharma.

“The primary thing we provided was a sense of community where you could explore your interests in computer science together in a more open environment where no one is judging you from a different skill level or being of a different mindset by any means,” said Sanya Sharma.

Interest in Girls Who Code grew once word got out of the club’s success.

“Once they collaborated with other girls and figured they could actually achieve these things,” said Sanya Sharma, “they wanted to major in computer science and a lot of Girls Who Code are interning at absolutely amazing companies like Google, Amazon, Uber, etc.”

Girls Who Code looks to expand on and flourish in the future.

“The year that I was in charge was the first time Girls Who Code was in person, so there were a lot of things to work out and I think it really blossomed after I left, under Kathryn and Tia [Watt ‘23],” said Liu.
Computer science as a field of study has a very broad range to help those seeking to utilize it and empower themselves in any career they wish, as said by Harper.

“From empowering women in STEM to education to just connecting people all around the world is such an impactful thing,” said Harper.

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About the Contributor
Noah Barbas '24
Noah Barbas '24, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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