You’ve been working with Google’s Code Next students for six years. What still surprises you about working with them?
Peta-Gay: I’m still surprised how often our students are excluded and underestimated. There are still far too many schools that don’t offer computing courses, and even if they do, our students may not be eligible to take them. Many of our budding engineers join Code Next to get the exposure and access they need. They join as freshman in high school and stay through graduation. Our inaugural cohort have even stayed connected through the program, and they’re now sophomores in college!
Shameeka: The students continuously blow me away, there’s no limit to what they can achieve. Our senior leadership sees it too. I’ve even seen their eyes twinkle when they attend our student showcases! Being a part of this leadership team has also helped me raise my own children — I’ve learned that you have to remove boundaries and focus on the play part of education to truly inspire the next generation.
What do you hope the students who participate in Code Next learn beyond new technical skills?
Peta-Gay: I want our students to become lifelong learners. My hope is that they never stop exploring and tinkering, but more importantly they find joy in learning.
Shameeka: I want our students to use what they learn here to reach back and pull others forward. We want to inspire the next generation of makers and engineers to become disruptive leaders in tech with a growth mindset. I hope they keep growing and glowing!
What do you hope to achieve with the new Women of Color in Tech scholarship?
Peta-Gay : Together with Scholly, our team is excited to sponsor a new Women of Color in Tech scholarship that will award up to 20 Black, Latina and Native women with $10,000 towards computing degrees.
Shameeka: It was created to raise awareness of the gender gap in tech and the challenges women of color face trying to enter the industry. We also hope it eases some financial burden for the winners so they can focus on their studies.