The Houston Community College (HCC) Northeast Campus hosted girls, ages 13 to 17, from across Houston for its first-ever Black Girls Code (BGC) two-week camp. The group of 25 learned to code in HCC’s state-of-the-art computer labs, participating in a variety of activities designed to expose and encourage them to pursue careers in technology. They even created their own mobile app to identify and solve problems within their communities.
The teens worked collaboratively on projects designed to increase their understanding of software applications and programming. For most of the students, it was their first experience working with coding technology and on a project that could be applicable to their daily lives. The college environment further exposed the students to opportunities and pathways to multiple careers.
“We are so proud of the girls and their parents for participating in the first summer camp and excited to see the impact of Black Girls Code in Houston,” said Ravi Brahmbhatt, director of HCC’s Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “This camp reached the mark of over 475 girls who have taken part in BGC’s Houston programming since the first workshop in February 2018.”
Explaining that HCC has played an integral role in BGC establishing a Houston chapter, Brahmbhatt said the partnership is to increase the pipeline of girls of color pursuing careers in technology. For more than a year, HCC provided eight one-day workshops across the college service area, but this is its first extended two-week summer camp.
HCC Northeast President, Dr. Monique Umphrey, has a specific interest in the partnership because of her experience working in the information technology career field.
“We are proud to host the Black Girls Code summer camp at HCC Northeast because it is always exciting to see young people enjoying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fun,” said Umphrey. STEM studies are offered throughout HCC.
In addition to coding, the camp offered mentorship, interactive exercises, and field trips. The camp culminated with a presentation of apps developed by the participants and recognition for their projects and accomplishments. Umphrey congratulated and encouraged the students as they considered future career paths.
“Having that foundational skill in software development changed my life; it opened up new pathways and allowed me to travel globally, leading software development teams,” Umphrey shared. “It empowered me, not just as a woman, but also as a black woman.”
She added that, as the world has changed, technology has changed the way we live, work and play.
“Even if you don’t decide to be a technologist, the skills that you have incorporated over this camp are invaluable,” Umphrey said.
Many of the participants were able to attend the summer camp with scholarships provided by AT&T. HCC plans to continue the partnership with BGC and support more workshops and camps in the future. HCC Northeast offers a variety of programs including STEM to meet the workforce demands of the future. For more information, visit hccs.edu/northeastcollege or call 713.718.8300.