Nurturing a passion for computer science
As a junior in high school, Seattle-area student Alka Pai noticed that even at Tesla STEM High School, few girls were signing up for science and computer science (CS) courses—and she decided to do something about it. “At a young age, girls see stereotypes that tell them computer science isn’t for them,” she explains. “I wanted to break down those barriers.”
So Alka created a club that provides middle school girls with high school girl mentors. The program, STEM Reach, has helped hundreds of girls, continues to grow today, and hosts an event where the young teens showcase the projects they make. The girls have created games that encourage people to pick up litter and an app that simulates decorating a cake.
“I’m not some CS evangelist—not everyone has to become a coder! But I want everyone to know that they can use computer science to pursue their interests,” she says. Alka continues that mission at Brown University, where she is studying computer science and where she heads a committee to increase diversity in campus hackathons.
Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island