Watch out World! STEM + Teen Spirit (and summer school) = Formula for Female Success
Fleurianne Debe just started her senior year of high school, but unlike most students her age - she already graduated. Here’s the catch: “This ceremony wasn’t with my peers at North Atlanta High School,” Fleurianne smiled. “In fact, I didn’t even wear a cap and gown!”
Instead, on July 20, 2017, the 17-year-old celebrated her graduation, and an educational milestone, with the Girls Who Code and State Farm Insurance.
“It's awesome,” said Fleurianne. “I learned about science, technology engineering and math. My mom told me about this special program and I enrolled because I’m really into gaming. It was right up my alley!”
Girls Who Code (GWC), is a national nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in technology. Its summer immersion program helps young women like Fleurianne develop their STEM skills.
“Technology is changing everything about the way we live and work,” said Girls Who Code Founder and CEO, Reshma Saujani. “Computing jobs are some of the fastest-growing and highest paying in our country, yet girls continue to get left behind. Access to a computer science education can bring women into a thriving innovation economy.”
The Journey Begins
Fleurianne, along with 19 students, took part in the summer GWC program in Atlanta, Georgia. Hosted by State Farm, the seven-week course helps teens develop their technological skills, learn about STEM careers and meet with women working in the tech industry.
“The chance to be mentored by these professionals meant a lot to me. This entire experience helped my self-confidence grow,” smiled Fleurianne. “I discovered so much about systems, IT and coding.”
Throughout the summer, students also learned how to construct webpages, build apps, develop a social media network and even work with robots.
“I loved the hands-on tech exposure,” smiled Fleurianne. “Now, I can code. And the best part? Now I can show other girls how to do it too.”
Program Instructors like Kat Graff say this year’s GWC participants demonstrated teamwork and a commitment to excellence.
“When they arrived on the State Farm campus, many of them didn’t have any coding experience. But you’d never know that now. I’m confident great things lie ahead for these young women.”
For companies like State Farm, it’s a chance to deliver on the company’s commitment to empowering communities. “We make significant contributions to STEM education and women in technology efforts at the company level,” said State Farm IT Senior Vice President Sandy Arnold. “This program had an even bigger impact because our State Farm employees personally invested in these students. Seeing the positive results first-hand was so inspiring.”
The Adventure Continues
“I learned anything is possible if I put my mind to it,” said Fleurianne. “Because of GWC, I want to pursue a computer science degree in college.”
Before then, she needs to complete her senior year. But Fleurianne plans to take Girls Who Code with her.
“I want to create a Girls Who Code club at my high school,” she explained. “Being a young woman who is interested in technology makes me feel like I’m breaking boundaries, and that’s really cool. Now, I want to help others like me do the same thing.”
As for her long term goal? Being part of the good neighbor community could be in sight.
“When the time comes, I’d love to be a State Farm intern,” said Fleurianne. “I want to continue building my knowledge and creativity. Thanks to GWC, my journey has just begun!”