SPARTA, NJ — A New Jersey high school learned a lot more during a stretch at Johnson & Johnson this summer than he planned—and he's bringing it back into the community.
Senior Christopher Murray is working to promote Code to Hope in the Garden State. Code to Hope is an organization that seeks to improve digital literacy and education in Africa. It resonated with Murray after he learned about it during a summer program at the New Brunswick-based Johnson & Johnson
Philemon Padonou, of Benin, Africa, and a software developer at Johnson & Johnson, founded Code to Hope.
Padonou got his education in the United States, though he arrived with “little to no technical competency,” according to the Code to Hope website. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in software engineering, realizing the importance of technical literacy for success.
Murray’s mother has worked for Johnson & Johnson for nearly 40 years, allowing him to participate in a number of STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—programs at their global IT headquarters in Raritan. The high schooler attended a digital and analytics boot camp for high schoolers in June.
The event spanned several days, giving a “learning experience into the corporate world,” for students “planning to study STEM-related fields and possibly intern at Johnson & Johnson,” with an emphasis on career skills in STEM for “promising future leaders,” Murray said.
It was there that Murray learned of Code to Hope.
The mission of the organization is “to fight poverty by giving future leaders the tools they need to empower their communities,” according to its website. Accessibility to technology can be directly linked to the household income, according to statistics from the organization.
Johnson & Johnson is the main sponsor of the organization.
Murray is spreading the word, hoping to speak with Sparta's board of education and others to reel in donations.
He also plans to speak with his peers “to see if other students might be able to help.”
Help can come in the form of donated technology or money to buy computers and help with shipping costs. A pledge of time is also valuable, he said, with opportunities for people to get involved with “various initiative Code to Hope hosts.”
Murray said he plans, “without a doubt,” to pursue a degree in biomathematics in college.
He has applied to Rutgers University, his target school, as well as Seton Hall, The College of New Jersey, Rowan University and Fairleigh Dickinson University.
“Biomathematics is so flexible, I probably won’t know exactly which job or career I want until after a few years of college,” Murray said.
Murray encourages anyone interested in Code to Hope to contact the organization directly.