Yanely Tamayo just started her senior year of high school. She’s taking classes to get her across the graduation finish line: Math, English, Econ, and even a course in leadership and activism. And while she’s got a lot going on – managing her courses, being a class officer, starting college applications, and even starting the Code Nation Fellowship II class – she has a strong community supporting her. It’s this network of support, made up of peers, teachers, and even Code Nation volunteers she’s met in her classes and Fellowship, that she thinks is going to help her navigate it all.

When we asked what Yanely’s dream job is, she lit up while sharing that someday she wants to build the next big event planning app – channeling her entrepreneurial spirit and coding skills into creating new technology. Planning events has always been a passion for Yanely (in addition to baking). In school, she’s on event planning committees and works on helping coordinate school-wide events like prom and homecoming. “There’s so much that goes into planning an event, all the different pieces and people, and it’s really cool seeing it come to life,” she shared.

Code Nation was first offered as a club at Yanely’s school during her second year, where she was able to dip her toes into coding through completing Code Nation’s Intro to Web Development course as part of the club. “It really opened a lot of doors for me,” Yanely said. She signed up for our summer program offered in partnership with Enterprise for Youth in the summer of 2021, which opened even more doors for her as a young student identifying as Latine/x.

She then learned about Code Nation’s Fellowships, and took the Fellowship I class, hosted by Autodesk, a design software company that serves customers across the manufacturing, architecture, building, construction, media, and entertainment industries. Autodesk has taken a leading role in the development of robotics, Augmented and Virtual Reality, and 3D printing. Yanely remembers working in a group to create a website with a pop music playlist as one of the most fun projects she worked on.

Up until now, all of Yanely’s experiences with Code Nation have been virtual, joining our programs at the height of the global COVID-19 pandemic – but soon, she starts Fellowship II with LaunchDarkly, a SaaS (software as a service) platform for developers to manage feature flags. LaunchDarkly is one of Code Nation’s longest standing company partnerships, and Yanely can’t wait to be on-site and in-person when the program starts. But beyond getting out from behind the Zoom screen, Yanely is also really excited to find out first hand what it’s like to work in a tech office.

Yanely wasn’t always interested in computer science (or even knew what it was), and she’s explored other disciplines, like environmental science. In learning coding, though, she was pleasantly surprised to find that design plays a big role in the work – one of her favorite parts of the projects – and loves that coding creates new things, something she didn’t know was possible. Without this exposure, Yanely shared she may have never explored computer science at all.

Throughout her time as a student in Code Nation programs, Yanely remembers every volunteer she worked with – the way they’d break the ice through telling funny stories, but more importantly perhaps, their willingness to answer Yanely’s questions thoughtfully and thoroughly to get her project to the finish line. Most of her Code Nation projects lately have been group-based. Yanely shared that it’s these group projects that have helped her to build some essential skills: leadership, communication, and taking initiative.

“It made me realize how much I like working with people. I feel like it comes in handy, working with others. Yeah, there’s different opinions, but things work well if you communicate and you don’t have to take on everything by yourself.”

Yanely shared that she thinks Code Nation was a big factor in her growth as she approaches the end of high school. It’s helped her develop professionally and personally throughout high school and presented new opportunities to explore career paths, and even helped refine her networking skills. But for now, she’s focused on finishing up her senior year and making sure she has the perfect application for her dream school, University of California Santa Cruz, where she plans to study computer science.

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