NEWARK, NJ - Columbia High School seniors Asma Makhdoom and Halle Bryant of South Orange, and Ellie Cohen of Maplewood, recently graduated from the seven-week "Girls Who Code" summer Immersion program offered at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).

Makhdoom, Bryant, and Cohen were among 40 young women from throughout New Jersey who participated in “Girls Who Code” at the NJIT location. The intensive summer program, which meets Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., combines more than 300 hours of instruction in web development and design, robotics and mobile development with mentorship and exposure, led by top female engineers and entrepreneurs. 

In addition to daily instruction in a variety of coding languages such as Python, Scratch, and HTML, "Girls Who Code" also features guest speakers and special programs, including the chance to meet "Girls Who Code" from other locations; a summer event held at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan for participants in New York and New Jersey brought over 400 girls together.

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For Makhdoom, who has always been interested in computer science, "Girls Who Code" was perfect because, as she explained, "I never knew where to start." With "Girls Who Code," which Makhdoom described as an "amazing experience," she was able to get that start, as "Girls Who Code" does not require any previous coding experience. Makhdoom continued, "I think personally coding is something everyone should learn, even if you don't want to pursue computer science."

Cohen explained how she is often one of just a few girls in computer science classes and on the Columbia High School robotics team, and so she welcomed the chance to be part of "Girls Who Code," which she praised for creating an atmosphere of collaboration that "didn't feel competitive," and for having inspiring speakers who provided real-life examples of women who have succeeded in the field.  

"Girls Who Code" is a national non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology. Through its Summer Immersion Program and Girls Who Code Clubs, the organization is leading the movement to inspire, educate, and equip young women with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities. Additional information is available at www.girlswhocode.com. With the support of the Verizon Foundation, the seven-week intensive computer science course was offered for the second time in Newark this summer. Two students from South Orange participated in the program last summer.