One Line of Code at a Time

One Line of Code at a Time

Everything is possible, except impossibility. Everyone's heard that traditional Hallmark card quote, that coined phrase that's been stitched and printed onto every single available throw pillow or wall hanging that Target can handle. Most people dismiss this as the cliche that it's known to be. I'm not gonna lie--I was one of those people.

It all changed with an application.

You know when you ask some old person (if you so happen to ever be talking to your grandpa on the phone) about the one thing that changed their life, and they mention throwing a paper route when they were seven or working at the Stock Exchange as a grad student? Well, if you end up talking to me 60 years in the future (who knows if it'll be on a phone or a chip implanted in our BRAINS), I'll bet you $25 that I'll say Girls Who Code.

(If I'm wrong, just collect it from 76-year-old Caitlin. She'll probably have more money than me.)

Girls Who Code was something that came up in January or so of my sophomore year. My dad had been trawling (the Internet, not the ocean) for every and any internship that had to do with STEM: science, technology, engineering, and/or math. It's been my dream to be an engineer--ever since I decided that there isn't enough room in New York to build buildings as an architect--and he felt that it was time to throw myself into the field and get some experience.

In. Coding.

I've watched as many Disney action movies as the next person, and none of them made me want to be a coder. When I heard the word, I shuddered and imagined a lone chubby guy in a painfully ironic shirt covered in Dorito dust and Coke spills, frantically typing away in his mother's basement with a headset clamped to his ear (into which he would yell commands for his League of Legends team) and the computer screen lighting up his face. It wasn't an image I aspired to fulfill.

But as soon as I sent in my application and got my acceptance into the six week program, I was locked in. No getting out of it.

I was fully prepared to walk into Goldman Sachs (the location for my Girls Who Code program) and see a classroom, full of preppily-dressed girls and a less-than-enthusiastic teacher.

Boy was I wrong.

Rather than having to spend my summer listening to lectures and scribbling down notes on for loops and variables, my teacher (eyy shoutout to LINDSAY) made everything FUN. We made the scrolling background found in many a platformer (while being constantly reminded about freaking semicolons THANKS KHANACADEMY). We tried tackling 2048--as in, actually making a version of 2048. We made webpages that threw us right back into the 90s; ah, the old Internet. In the span of six weeks, I ended up learning the fundamentals of Python, JavaScript, JQuery, HTML, and CSS, which was a lot more than what I had learned in my one semester of Intro to Computer Science at school. By the end of the program, I was even able to work with my team and build debAPP, the debate-scoring app (the prototype of which can be found on the landing page of my site).

Okay, it didn't exactly *work*, but we were able to make a log-in (using HTML input) and print out results (by hardcoding the results into the HTML page). But hey, our parents thought it looked great! And maybe we can finish it, since the New York State Forensics League (the organization which organizes high school debate in New York. Nope, it has nothing to do with "Criminal Minds").

Not only did I learn to code, but I made 20 new best friends. We bonded over our coding #strugglebus, listened to hilarious stories during Highs-and-Lows, made robots have a dance party, went out to hackathons and restaurants and movies. If I have a problem with my Java program for AP Computer Science, I know I have someone to turn to for help. If I want a team for an upcoming hackathon, people are on board for 24 hours of no sleep and lots of swag/food. When I had my Sweet Sixteen, I had a group of friends to call up and light a candle for me, because they had made such a profound impact on my life.

Coding is now my passion. I enrolled in the AP Computer Science course at my school this year. I attended five or six hackathons--and ended up bringing awards home from all but one of them *fist pump*. I even founded my own hackathon with CSTUY: def hacks() [PLUGSPLUGSPLUGS]. And now I coded this entire website.

So if you can learn anything from me, learn that you should make the jump and get your hands dirty. Be uncomfortable--it's how you grow.

I miss you, Jayah

I miss you, Jayah