Lana Yager had a goal to bring Girls Who Code to Omaha and was fortunate to help make that happen in 2016. She was awarded the AIM for Brilliance Tech Educator Award for 2016. Lana became a teacher after working more than 20 years working in business and IT and now teaches Computer Science at Omaha South High. She is excited to be able to continue introducing girls to programming while teaching an AP Computer Science for an 'all girls' class at South.
I love spending my time on projects where everyone benefits and Omaha Girls Who Code represents an excellent example of getting together for good. I am proud to be a part of group which includes individuals from different backgrounds, with different experiences with one thing in common - we are all on a mission to increase the numbers of women in tech. Omaha Girls Who Code has provided opportunities for us to share our strengths as well as grow professionally and personally. I look forward to continuing to support this initiative by sharing my contacts, interest in social media and gift of fundraising for causes I am passionate about.
Marvel Maring has been a branch manager for the Omaha Public Library for the past 3.5 years. During the years she managed the Abrahams Branch, the Sage family donated $10,000 to the branch to spend on anything they chose. Marvel decided that the branch needed to offer computer coding classes to the kids. The Sage family donation allowed the branch to purchase Chrome Books and other support materials to launch a coding initiative. Thanks to Shonna Dorsey, Dr. Victor Winter and Lana Yager, we have been connected to the larger Omaha Coding community and this Girls Who Code chapter was establishted.
I've long wanted to start a Girls Who Code Club in Omaha but knew I couldn't do it on my own, so when Shonna introduced me to Marvel and Lana, I felt we could build a great team with the Omaha Public Library, Interface School, and Omaha Coding Women. I had a feeling that some of the Omaha Coding Women members felt the same and figured that we'd get a few volunteers. When Omaha Coding Women got involved, they showed up in droves. I'm so proud of everyone's hard work and continuing efforts to bring this opportunity to more and more young women in Omaha, and I'm honored to be a part of it.
Not many of us had an opportunity to get this much exposure to technology in our younger years. Even more so, not many of us had peers to experience it with. One of the reasons I started Omaha Coding Women was because I knew very few female programmers, and I thought surely there must be more out there like me that are in need of a place to connect. The chance for these young ladies to learn and grow in a group of their peers is building such a strong foundation of support, encouragement, and teamwork. A strong team is 10x more valuable than a 10x engineer.
Eris Koleszar found her passion for coding through the game design courses at UNO whereafter she taught herself C# and the Unity engine. Once out of college, she landed a job at SkyVu Entertainment and worked on titles that have reached millions of people through Android and iOS devices. The game industry proved to be incredibly male dominated and male-centric, but thankfully, she found camaraderie in the Omaha Coding Women group. Through her connections there, she joined the amazing group of women who launched the first Omaha Girls Who Code club at the Abrahams Branch. Now she enjoys teaching the younger female generation about software development and making quirky games in the occasional game jam.
I got into programming because when I took an intro to operating systems course and created my first batch file I thought I was Queen of the world. It took me back to when I was younger. Whenever I got alone with a computer I would start to test its limits and often break the OS. However I was often discouraged from my interests in technology and computers when I was younger. It wasn't until I decided to take that OS course when I realized I could make my curiosity into goals and no one could stop me.
I got involved with GWC because I want to help girls realize that they can make their curiosity into goals. That yes they can. I want to help girls who wouldn't have opportunity otherwise to get the opportunity to see what options the future holds for them. You don't have to come from privilege to succeed. You just need to dream big, set goals, and go for it.
For a long time, I saw my best skill as understanding people's needs and making their lives easier. I turned to code as a solution to their problems, but I didn't think of myself as a coder because I didn't think I looked like a coder. But coders can and do look like me.
I became involved with Girls Who Code because I thought it was important to help the next generation of girls feel like they belong to this community. Code is important because we will all interact and communicate with each other through code being built today. Knowing code, getting to build that future, is a privilege, and those who have that knowledge will have an outsize impact on our culture.
For that reason, it's important that the tech industry starts to reflect our diverse world. Movements like Girls Who Code are a first step. I'm proud and humbled to be a part of what's happening here in Omaha, and across the world.
I began coding because I wanted to engineer solutions to real-world problems. After working in journalism (I produced an international talk show and edited the first English-language news site in Tunisia), I decided to transition to a career in development by enrolling in Omaha Code School. Now, I'm an instructor there! I use code as a tool to make processes more efficient and approach problems and their solutions in a relevant, accessible way. I am passionate about Girls Who Code because - given the challenges we face - who else is better-equipped to contribute fresh ideas and think up the next best solutions than girls and women?
My name is Shannon. I graduated from Omaha Code School in April, and am now a Junior Consultant at Agape Red. I never thought I was the 'kind of person who codes' and had never had any work experience with tech in any of my previous careers. Last October some developers I know suggested I might like OCS and after taking the entrance exam and doing the pre-work for the course, I realized that the problem solving side of code was really satisfying to me. I also love how much possibility can be found with this skill set, and how much good technology can bring to the world, and that's why I love GWC. I wanted to get involved with this orgnaization because I never want another girl to think she isn't 'the kind of person who codes.' I want to foster the enthusiasm these girls have, and make the industry a welcoming place for them to come into and change the world.
I'm a UX Designer at Kiewit (yay! New job!)
I've always been surrounded by tech, but was never really encouraged to go into it. I went to grad school for human resources and industrial/organizational psychology, but it didn't allow me to be creative and I didn't feel fulfilled. I found Interface and learned front-end web development, which allowed me to move into a UX design position, and here I am!
I love Girls Who Code because I'm so excited that these ladies get an opportunity that wasn't available to me at their age. Because they're encouraged to code, they'll be awesome problem solvers and collaborators. I'm excited to be part of a group that lets girls know that they can be anything they want to be.
I began coding as a hobby in 2000. I found that simple games and web development were a challenging and fun creative outlet. I had no idea my hobby would spiral out of control and become my career.
I have been a professional software engineer since 2007. Throughout my career, I've developed huge systems to support the telecommunications, finance, and insurance industries. I am fascinated by functional programming languages, artificial intelligence, data structures, and algorithms.
I've had a long-standing interest in bridging the gender gap in IT, as IT fields (and STEM fields more generally) benefit when more women contribute their talents to the community. I became involved with GWC to support young women and cultivate their interest in software early in life. I look forward to seeing the students grow and develop as they begin their journey through programming and software development.
I started coding when I was 10 years old on a Texas Instruments TI 99 home computer (Google it!). I always loved coding, but growing up I never considered that it could be a career. Instead, I became a math teacher, and after a few years I switched jobs and I am currently a software training specialist. I do some coding as part of my job now, and I still code as a hobby. I currently have an app on the Apple Store called License Plate Hunt. I wanted to get involved with Girls Who Code because we need more women in the technology sector and I want girls to realize this can be their career and their calling.
I was always attracted to problem solving from the time I can remember. I also naturally had a soft corner for Math while I was growing up. Last but not the least I have always had a little bit of a creative bend to myself. I like painting and also do classical Indian dancing.
I think all of those magically sparkled for me when I first got exposed to programming and then started doing it more regularly. The structure of Math, the excitement and accomplishment of problem solving and the creative satisfaction from dancing/painting all came together when I started programming.
As I pursued my Masters I got more into the advanced technical items such as search algorithms, text mining and such which was the topic for my Masters Thesis. As I worked at Union Pacific I got first hand knowledge of applying those same skills (structure, problem solving, creativity) to real world business problems.
And now, I am trying to pass on those opportunities for tomorrow's problem solvers and creative artists and thinkers in the computing world of the university with my teaching job!
I couldn't think of a better organization that is aiming to change the vocabulary around programming and computing in general with young girls. I believe GWC can be a change agent early in the girl child's life to give them the self-confidence to go into programming and also to show the possibilities there-off. It doesn't hurt to educate them (especially girls coming from disadvantaged backgrounds) the career and job prospects with a career in programming too!
Cara is a web developer, designer, and illustrator from Omaha, Nebraska. She has been drawing since she can remember and coding (terrible) websites since she was twelve, but decided to pursue a career in graphic design when she went to college. After receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2011, she joined the Omaha Code School inaugural class in early 2014 to add more web development to her skill set.
Cara is currently a developer at Big Wheel Brigade. She decided to volunteer for Girls Who Code because she enjoys mentoring and believes in increasing diversity in the tech field.
I was introduced to GWC through my course mentor at Interface Web School. The aspect that was initially appealing is the girls went through an interview process. As expected, the girls made an interesting group. Besides having the ability to learn programming, they were also musicians, artists, volunteers in their community, devoted family members, committed to their beliefs, and from diverse backgrounds.
From a social perspective, I believe that GWC is being a good steward to the community by giving young women the knowledge to navigate technology. Whether they decide to be programmers, managers, or whatever, having this knowledge will help them in any role they decided upon.
Last summer I was looking into going back to school for a MS or a second BS, because I just wasn't having any luck finding a job with a Bachelor's degree in Physics. I was feeling kind of discouraged though, and I definitely wasn't excited by the thought of spending another 2-3 years in school. A friend of mine had graduated from Omaha Code School, which is a very intense 12 week coding "bootcamp," so I asked her about it. The more I looked into it, the more I thought it was something I might enjoy. To make a long story short, I applied, I worked hard, graduated in August of 2015, and it turns out that I absolutely love writing code.
I am very passionate about becoming a role model and encouraging young women in STEM fields. I showed talent in these fields early, but I was never encouraged to pursue them in school and I believe that was largely, though perhaps not intentionally, due to my gender. When I went to college at 18, I planned to be an art major, but my true love at that time was math. I believe that we need to support and nurture the talents and interests of young women in STEM to give them the the knowledge and the confidence to pursue fields that they might not have considered otherwise.
I got into programming because of an introductory class in college. I had not done anything like programming before. Thought it was fun so I got my degree in CS. I have been working in IT since graduating in 2014.
I got involved with GWC because I felt that if I had had more info before going to college I would have been better off. I feel that it is important to help educate young ladies of the possibilities that are out there.
Getting my first laptop sparked my interest with technology. I have always been fascinated with how computers work and how much there still is to learn. On top of that, my mom worked in IT for a few years and I attended the Take Your Kids to Work Days. I loved the atmosphere and she's always been my role model. I'm thankful for my parent's support when deciding to major in Management Information Systems.
I got involved with Girls Who Code because I love the idea of young girls getting the opportunity to code. I hope that this organization helps someone decide that they want to go into a technology-related field. I'm proud to be a part of such a great organization!
The cheesy story I tell is that I got into web design and development because I wanted the world to be more inclusive and friendly. The real story is that I got into web design because when I was in junior high I didn't want my Top 8 to show on Myspace page, because I didn't want to upset any of my friends. Today I'm a web designer and front-end developer. A lot of what I know about web development is self-taught, but a whole lot more has come from the learning from the people around me. I got involved with Girls Who Code because I want other females to feel included. I want girls to know that they can learn from and teach each other, as well as lean on one another, to accomplish great things.
Amy Wall currently works as a Software Consultant at an Omaha based Software Consulting Agency, Agape Red. She returned to the Omaha area last January to attend Omaha Code School and has since enjoyed becoming involved in the Omaha Tech Community. Prior to returning to Omaha, Amy lived in St. Louis, Missouri and worked as a Project Manager and Content Manager for a local Media Marketing Agency. She received her BA from Saint Louis University with a major in Art History and certificate in Business Administration. Amy strives to bring an interdisciplinary approach to software development that draws upon her experience in marketing, art, and technology.
I started learning to code in middle school, when I learned just enough HTML and CSS to make my Livejournal look cool. I didn't take it much further than that until the fall of 2015 when, on a whim, I applied for Omaha Code School. Four whirlwind months later, I graduated and took a job as a Ruby on Rails developer at a local business.
Having worked as an EFL teacher in my previous life, I thought that Girls Who Code would be the perfect intersection of code and teaching. What I hadn't expected was just how deeply I would fall for the mission and community this organization provides. Girls Who Code is committed to diversity and inclusion at a critical age in the development of the next generation, and I couldn't be happier to play a small part in that.
I initially discovered my interest in coding in the early 2000's when I discovered I could make pages colorful and pretty on the virtual pets website Neopets. I never pursued this hobby until I decided I to move on from a career path in secondary education, which wasn't working for me. In 2016, I completed Omaha Code School and found my calling in front-end web development. Currently, I use my developer talents at Kiewit, where I am a Web and Digital Development Specialist.
At Girls Who Code, I enjoy mentoring and watching the class solve problems. It makes me really excited they have something like this available to them because I really wish I had! Hopefully, they can use their time spent with us to build interest and confidence that will support them in the future.
Rosemary Keenan is a student at UNO and an intern at the Union Pacific call center. She is currently working towards a computer science major and would like to work in web development in the future.
Jessica Johnson is a librarian and project manager from East St. Louis. During her four years as a librarian at Wright Career College in Omaha, Nebraska, she was introduced to the world of coding through HTML/CSS workshops on Code Academy and has since become an advocate for coding as a vital 21st century skill (though her own skill level is still quite basic!) She has served at the Director of Community Learning at Do Space since spring 2016, and hopes to continue to make coding a staple focus in Do Space programs.
I started coding as a teenager in the dark ages of the 1990s, but took a detour through, uh... several other careers before winding up a web developer with Mutual of Omaha. On its worst days, still way better than being a tax accountant. In my free time, I play a staggering amount of Minecraft, but if you squint, I can pass for a real adult. When I started with Girls Who Code, I thought it was important but that the prospect of working with kids was unsettling and... maybe vaguely alarming? I was amazed at the girls in this program and how smart and creative and caring they are, and I have so much hope for the future they're going to be a part of.
My journey with Code began when I chose Information Technology as my major for my Bachelors program and that led to a Masters in ComputerScience and pursuing a career in IT.
There was something about it, every time I got my code working or retrieved info like I wanted from a database or found a smarter way to make things work using code that gave me happiness, it didn't matter how intimidating or impossible it seemed at first.
I hope to make girls starting off on this path discover the same by moving past their barriers.
A native of Southwest Iowa, Trisha's interests in web design and development started during a seventh-grade computer class and continued when she joined the Iowa 4-H Technology Team during high school. This hands-on learning was the foundation for her future. After double-majoring at Drake University with a BA in Graphic Design and Creative Advertising, Trisha began her professional career at HDR, Inc. as a graphic designer and now is the senior web designer for WoodmenLife. With her background combination of design, strategy, web design, and front-end development, she is excited to share her knowledge and experiences with minds of our youth.
Lauren Koperski became interested in coding upon taking a Java class her first semester of college at the University of Nebraska Omaha. Although somewhat intimidating, being one of the few females in the room, she was determined to learn the material and felt empowered when she could create useful tools with code. Her passion for understanding the human side of technology influenced her decision to become the founding president of a local chapter of the nationally-recognized Association for Computing Machinery - Women (ACM-W), with a mission to support, celebrate, and advocate for women in technology. She found that sharing this message and interacting with younger students was crucial to accomplishing this mission. With a similar mission, Omaha Girls Who Code gives its students the foundational knowledge, tools, and community to succeed in the world of technology.