Written by volunteer writer Amy Freeman
Last week, we introduced you to three members of the Techgirlz’ Teen Advisory Board (TAB) who recently graduated and will be heading off to college in the fall. This week, catch up with three more graduating members, Lilia Becker, Nara Valera-Simeon, and Lindsey Davis, to see what they’ve been up to, what they plan to do next, and how they made adjustments to their senior year of high school to cope with COVID-19.
Come back next week to meet the remaining members of the graduating class!
Lilia Becker had a busy last year of high school. Along with applying to college, she was the captain of both the varsity tennis team and the varsity debate team. Under her leadership, the tennis team came in second in the league and the debate team took first place in its league. Lilia also took second place in her category in the State DECA competition. She had planned on competing in the national competition and also had plans to take the debate team to the state championship, but both ended up being canceled due to the pandemic.
As a member of the TAB, Lilia spent much of the school year focusing on teaching Python classes for TechGirlz. She showed other TAB members how to teach the Python workshop, too.
“I loved demonstrating the class to the TAB because they are all my new friends and we have a lot of fun together,” she said. She also hopes that she was able to get more young girls excited about coding and helped them gain confidence by teaching them Python.
Lilia hasn’t been shy about promoting the TAB and encouraging other girls to join. “I just recommended it to a girl a few days ago and she said she signed up to volunteer! she said. “I told her it’s a great way to help build a better culture of confident young girls who are enthusiastic about technology. Being a board member is a great service to others and helps better your local community. It’s also a fun way to make friends with other like-minded board members. We have a great time while helping others!
In the fall, Lilia plans on attending the University of Chicago. Although she has yet to pick a major, she’s looking forward to taking lots of economics and science courses.
Nara Valera-Simeon made the most of a senior year and TAB membership that was affected by the pandemic. “I had a wonderful time being part of TAB!” she said. “I got to learn of several opportunities, meet girls interested in tech, and hear experiences of other TAB members.”
Nara worked on developing a few workshops as a member of TAB. She planned on creating a TechGirlz workshop at a local middle school that would have reached girls of color. She and another member of the Southern TAB team worked on establishing a workshop at Caktus, but those plans were cut short by COVID. She did have the opportunity to tour SAS and interview a software engineer there.
In addition to her work with the TAB, Nara kept busy at school, both helping other students and making the most of available resources to give her grades a boost. She spent a lot of her free time working with tutors at the Emily K Center, a college-access hub that provides resources to underrepresented students. The tutors she worked with helped her raise her physics grade up to a B!
In the spirit of giving back, Nara spent two days a week tutoring other students at her school’s library. As part of another library program, she visited nearby schools to read STEM-related books to students after school twice weekly.
Nara has had to adjust her summer plans somewhat as a result of the pandemic. She had planned to visit family in Peru for a few weeks, but that trip was canceled. She now looks forward to learning Java through a program from the University of Helsinki.
She plans on attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she’ll major in computer science and economics. She’s already connected with a few current CS students at the school and she’s excited to meet them in person soon.
According to Lindsey Davis, “this year has definitely been one for the books.”
She finished high school on May 15th and plans on going to the University of Virginia in the fall, where she will double major in cognitive science and commerce. “I am so grateful to my parents, teachers, mentors, and friends for always supporting me in my endeavors,” she said.
Lindsey had a busy final year. Her varsity squash team traveled to Connecticut in February for Nationals. She was the editor of the school yearbook, the webmaster for student government, and the designer of the virtual tour for the Admissions Ambassadors at her school.
She describes her time as a TAB member as being an “eye-opening experience.” She’s been involved with Techgirlz since the sixth grade and has loved getting to meet other girls with similar interests. She’s also enjoyed getting to share her passion with and teach younger girls.
Some of the highlights of her time on the TAB include leading a workshop at the Agnes Irwin School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and co-leading a workshop over Zoom. She also petitioned to have a Zoom-based TechShop in a Box camp and led the camp this past July.
“[Working with] TechGirlz has allowed me to gain advocacy, public speaking, and technological skills,” she said. “I plan to use what I have gained from TechGirlz in college and beyond.”
Lindsey encourages any girl who’s considering joining the TAB to do it. “You will not only learn such useful technological skills, but you will also meet some of the best people and have the best experience,” she said, adding that you don’t need to love tech to love TechGirlz.
Come back next week to meet the remaining members of the TAB graduating class!