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Brandon F., Hong Kong
Data Scientist at top Hedge Fund
“Throughout my studies at First Code Academy, I gained computer science knowledge and developed a passion for technology. I apply the knowledge I learnt daily in my career in quantitative finance and data science.”
Amy C., Oakland, California
Mother of Natasha (10 years old)
“Natasha learned so much with her tutor each day. She started with AppJamming and is now on Web Programming. She has always loved being creative. It's great to see her apply to computers.”
Emma Y., New York
15 Year Old AI Startup Founder
“First Code Academy has opened up a new world for me. The coding courses they offer has taught me about Artificial Intelligence and has inspired me to start my own company.”
Puneet S., London, UK
Technology banking exec, father of Sameer (7 years old)
"With my technology experience, I always understand the importance of learning to code at a young age. I came across First Code’s curriculum and am impressed with its technical and creative aspects. My son Sameer is a gifted child and he loves the challenges in each project. I highly recommend this course - to learn computer science fundamentals and simulate logical and algorithmic thinking."
From AppJamming course at First Code, to AI startup founder at 15 years old
Read the full article featured by Melinda Gates below!
Back to the beginning: 15-year-old computer scientist traces her path to becoming an innovator
I am a tech founder, innovator, entrepreneur, machine learning researcher, and high school student. At age 15, my life seems to be a series of beginnings, but I’ve found that sometimes you don’t recognize the start of something important until after it’s happened. Before everything else, I was a primary school kid who really liked computers.
I began coding when I was six years old by bouncing cartoon cats around the edges of my screen. Scratch, the tool MIT released to teach kids about coding when I was about five years old, was full of fun characters (“sprites”) that you could rotate and whose colors you could change by dragging vibrant blocks of code into the window. The blocks would join together with a satisfying “snap” that I can still recall. I remember sitting on my grandmother’s couch many days after school, holding a heavy laptop, and playing with the sprites, before I began looking into other users’ projects and starting to figure out more complex structures.
A few years later, my interest turned from games and animations to mobile apps. I stuffed my heavy laptop into my parents’ black mesh computer bag and took the bus to First Code Academy, one of the first coding schools in Hong Kong (where I lived at the time), which was founded by a female entrepreneur, Michelle Sun, who had just returned from Silicon Valley.
Learning loops, logic, and user interfaces at First Code was exciting and presented three beginnings for me: it was the first time I learned about developing mobile apps, which is a significant part of my work now; it was the first time I was one of the youngest people in the room, a role to which I’ve since become accustomed; and it was the first time I was one of very few girls, if not the only girl, in the room, another role I’ve since gotten very used to. My interest in coding and eventually computer science continued to expand...
I took my second live coding class when I was in the seventh grade. It was a high school class for creating iOS apps, and, again, I was the youngest in the room and one of the only girls in the class. The four other girls and I would sit in the back and work through group projects together, almost forgetting how isolated we were from the rest of the class. The class dynamic was so different than what I experienced at the Technovation Challenge and served as another beginning: my first exposure to the gender imbalance that exists in much of the tech world.
For the last three years, I’ve been building my company and mobile app, Timeless, which I created to help my grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s disease, stay connected with my family. Now, Timeless 2.0, which we just launched globally, helps hundreds of families across the world do the same. Timeless has given me unthinkable opportunities to travel the world, sharing my story and using my voice to encourage more girls and young people to pursue their passions.
All of these small moments have broadened my understanding of what it means to be a girl in the 21st century who wants to improve the world, and who wants to become her best self
There was no single event that gave me my start down this path. I had no “aha” moment animating cats on my grandma’s couch in Hong Kong or listening to girls from across the world pitch their solutions for social injustice in an auditorium in San Francisco. It wasn’t just the fact that I’m often the youngest person in the room, or the only girl, or the only computer science geek, that made me want to create something that was meaningful to me and, ideally, to millions of Alzheimer’s patients around the world. But all of these small moments have broadened my understanding of what it means to be a girl in the 21st century who wants to improve the world, and who wants to become her best self.
Someone recently asked me what I would want to achieve if I had unlimited resources. I said that I would cure Alzheimer’s, expand the way we leverage machine learning, and optimize research for diagnostic tools. At Timeless, we’re working on it. And in the meantime, I’ll keep my eyes and mind open for new opportunities, because you never know what might change the future.