Girls Who Code Run the World: Meet 17-Year-Old Nikki Allen
This summer Cambio partnered with Girls Who Code, an innovative organization actively increasing the number of girls exposed to careers in the technology fields. Five graduates of the program are interning at Cambio, and they helped us relaunch the site - building new features and putting their stamp on the content - creating a destination that not only entertains but also empowers young women. We're thrilled to introduce you to these remarkable girls.
Nikki Allen, 17, from The Bronx, NY, is a senior in high school at the Collegiate Institute for Math and Science. While she used to think that building was for boys, GWC helped her realize that coding and creating is for everyone. Her ultimate goal is a career in cyber security. She says she enjoys coding, because she likes the ability to make something through a language that not a lot of people understand. Here, she talks about her experience interning at Cambio and creating a product that will give girls a new way to empower each other and inspire them to become builders.
Cambio: Why did you join Girls Who Code?
Nikki: I joined GWC mainly because I was already interested in the science field. I wanted to become a forensic scientist, but I also wanted to incorporate computers since I am good at working on computers in general.
Cambio: Is it challenging for girls to get into coding?
Nikki: I think it is challenging for girls to get into coding because it's mainly a male-dominated field, but through GWC I realized that you don't need to be a male to code, you don't need to be this stereotype. You can be anybody and you can do anything that you want through coding.
Cambio: Can you tell us about your final project at GWC?
Nikki: My final project was with another GWC alumna. We created an app to help the deaf and those who can hear communicate [with each other]. Our app has pictures and videos on how to utilize sign language.
Cambio: What are you most excited about working on at Cambio?
Nikki: I really wanted to work on the Celebspiration meme generator, because I feel as if girls want to create things, but they don't really know how or they don't know where to start. The meme generator can give them that push to say, "Well I know I can do this, so maybe I can start creating something a little more complex," and that's the goal.
Cambio: What do you hope to achieve by the end of this program at Cambio?
Nikki: I hope to achieve a better understanding of how business and computer science work together. I want to go into cyber security, so I'm glad that I have the business aspect now, so I know why we should we protecting a certain aspect of a business or why something is important and needs to be secure.
Cambio: Which woman inspires you the most and why?
Nikki: Jhené Aiko is my inspiration, because she's been through so much in life. Her brother died of cancer, and she's been in an accident with her daughter, and everything's that's happened in her life has been so traumatic. But she's overcome all of this and she's still making music. Her goal is to inspire other people, and I just love her so much for that.
Cambio: What empowers you?
Nikki: What empowers me the most is doing things and working. I volunteer at the New York Botanical Garden, and I also code on the side and I'm also doing homework, but I can't just sit still. What empowers me is working, because I'm getting towards the goals that I want to reach in life.
Cambio: What do you think girls care most about today?
Nikki: Today I think some girls care more about image than what they're trying to do in life. They care about the now, like what's happening right now, and I think they need to start planning for the future. I know you have to live in the moment, but you also need to prepare for the future. The girls that are thinking about what they want to do in the future for a career, those are the ones who are being progressive now. They're doing internships or they're working. Even if it's at a clothing store, they're still taking that initiative.
(Check out Nikki and her fellow interns' interview with Kalin and Myles, pictured above)
Cambio: Who's your favorite celebrity?
Nikki: Zoe Saldana. I think Zoe Saldana is so amazing, because she speaks what's on her mind, but in a gentle positive way, and she gets her point across. I just love her so much. She knows what she's doing.
Cambio: What's your favorite movie she's been in?
Nikki: Death at a Funeral. That's my favorite movie.
Cambio: What does #BUILTBYGIRLS mean to you?
Nikki: With the word build, I think of more of a male perspective. Like, "You can't be a girl and build." That's what I would have thought, but through GWC I know that building doesn't have to be anything tangible that you can actually touch. You can build anything. You can code. You can even build a mind. You can help your little sister with her homework, that's building something. I feel like building is more of a creative process, not so much of a physical, tangible thing.
(See Nikki's first article on the Cambio Col[lab].)