Written by volunteer writer Amy Freeman
A global pandemic can’t get the members of TechGirlz’ Teen Advisory Board (TAB) down. After checking in with the TAB’s graduating class (Catch up with Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 if you missed them!), we touched base with the remaining members of the TAB to see what the past year has been like for them. Check out some of their stories below and come back next week to read the rest!
Navya Alva’s first year in high school was a year full of new things and new, incredible people. She was a member of her school’s varsity golf team, an intern at the Bollywood dance school she attends, and won the Chairman’s Award with her robotics team. She also got to take some classes she loved, such as computer science.
Navya is really passionate about closing the gender gap in STEM and sees her work with the TAB as a way to do that. This past year, she’s been hard at work, assisting on workshops, writing blog posts, and brainstorming ways to make TechGirlz even better. Speaking about being part of TAB, she says, “it gives you amazing opportunities to interact with other women in stem and continue spreading the joy of stem to young girls. Seeing the joy on the girls’ faces after they’ve accomplished tasks and are having fun is priceless and is such a great motivation.”
Starting high school required a period of adjustment for Shamsa Belgrave, as she took on a “huge workload of classes to get ahead and to help me accomplish my goal.” It took some time to get used to the volume of work, but through it, Shamsa learned the importance of keeping in touch with her teachers and getting assistance when needed. In addition to her work on the TAB, Shamsa spent time this year working with Mighty Writers, an organization that helps kids express themselves through writing. She helped to put together an anti-violence seminar and ended up getting invited to Harrisburg to talk about the issues she and her peer group face in Philly.
Shamsa has had the opportunity to learn and grow as a member of the TAB. “Being a part of the advisory board pushed me to explore other options without the pressure of judgment or feeling like I can’t keep up,” she says. So far, she’s learned more about Python, has TAed a workshop, and has helped to organize board meetings. She encourages any other girls who are interested in joining the TAB to “go for it!”
Julia Chan’s first year of high school was packed full of honors courses. Some of her favorites were business law, intro to business and biology. She was also a member of the upper JV tennis team, her school’s all-girls robotics team, and the Chinese Student Association. Julia also competed in DECA in the hospitality and tourism category and went on to start an entrepreneurship club with a fellow student.
During her first year as a TAB member, Julia’s been a TA during several workshops, including Designing Mobile Apps and Rehabilitation Robotics. She also worked on updating the curriculum for TechShopz and volunteered to find speakers for the Women in Tech Summit. She encourages any other girls who are interested in joining the TAB to do it. “I … enjoy the community of like-minded girls who are all interested in STEM and the mentorship we are getting,” she says.
“My school year was great!” Rythama Chevendra says about her sophomore year. “I had an amazing time meeting new people and having new experiences like homecoming.” She found both her classes and extracurricular activities to be the right amount of challenging, making them very rewarding. She was a member of the choir, which she calls one of the “best experiences,” and worked in the special effects department of the school theater.
Serving on the TAB was another amazing experience for Rythama. She’s been working on developing a new healthcare technology curriculum, based on Microbits and how they react to the body. She also had the chance to interview Kimberly Arcand, which gave her a lot of insight into working in tech. Rythama’s advice to anyone who wants to join TAB is “try to make the most out of your experience with [it]. It’s a great way to meet new people and volunteer for something you’re passionate about!
Since, she has been a teaching assistant (TA) for TechGirlz virtual workshops on digital mapping and WordPress, along with a Python Programming camp.
The first year of high school brought a lot of new things Trevor Gardner’s way. She calls the year “fun and different” compared to middle school and notes that she was a lot more independent this past year.
In addition to getting involved in TAB, Trevor played on her school’s volleyball team and was involved in swimming and track. As a TAB member, she attended the meetings and got to help out teaching workshops. She calls her experience on the board “wonderful” and looks forward to coming back next year.
Although the pandemic threw a wrench in her first year of high school, Riya Lakhani still calls the year “fun” and says that she learned a lot. She was a member of the Sea Falcons, her school’s underwater robotics team, on the track team, and part of a youth group called BYG. At the start of quarantine, she set a goal to solve a Rubix cube in 45 seconds and most recently did it in one minute, seven seconds.
Riya says being part of the TAB was beneficial and fun. She was a TA on several workshops and made a presentation to girls at her old middle school, encouraging them to get involved in tech. “Overall,” she says, ” joining Techgirlz brings nothing but benefits.”
Know a high school girl looking to join this school year’s Teen Advisory Board? Apply Today!