The Lenovo Scholar Network: Where Creating Apps Go a Long Way

The Lenovo Scholar Network: Where Creating Apps Go a Long Way

Last year at Pathways Academy to Technology and Design was the first time I began to program apps. Initially as a female sophomore I have to admit I was a little intimidated. Not only because I was the youngest in the class but because when you usually think of programming you think of how complex it seems. I think most people would agree that learning how to program a mobile app doesn’t sound that interesting or easy. Although I like trying new things, mobile app development definitely wasn’t one of them. Obviously I go to a technology school but my expertise was more in photography, movie editing, and film.

I went into this class not knowing what to expect and it ended up being one of my most opportunistic and successful classes in all of my high school experience. Designing mobile apps opened more doors than I could’ve imagined. One second my class was being equipped with new tablets and laptops, and the next second I was presenting a new app to a room full of CEO’s. How’d I get there?

My partner Tobi Graham and I brainstormed and coded for an app as a part of our curriculum for the Lenovo Scholar Network. The program then selected five apps across the country to participate in their Fan Favorite contest. Unlike the other top five winners of the program, NAF then invited us to New York to present in front its committee. Later that night, Tobi and I went to the NAF gala to inform other companies about our project. Like all the winning teams, we were offered an all-expenses paid trip to Anaheim, California last summer so NAF could announce the winner of the Lenovo Scholar Network. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it because of my attendance at a summer college program at Harvard. Although we didn’t win, the opportunities didn’t stop there.

After the event in Anaheim, Karen Ondrick, the chief connector at Lenovo in North Carolina, collaborated with one of my teachers and Random Hacks of Kindness Jr. to organize a hackathon. Last Saturday on December 5th, 2015, Pathways had its first hackathon so middle school girls could learn how to code. I was the project manager on the Pathways Hackathon Committee which was made up of three technology teachers, our principal, and ten other female students. I’m a prime example of what doors are open when you have an interest in STEM and put that passion to work. Teaching young girls a coding language is exactly what our generation needs. There are going to be so many jobs in technology in the next 20 years with no one to fill that demand, and this hackathon was a perfect introduction to appeal to a new crowd- girls. Here were 50 girls from middle schools who were either open to new experiences or had an interest in STEM high schools and careers. If we make time for these students, appeal to their interests, and continue reaching out to them with events like these, I know that America’s technology field will be overflowing with talent. As a young woman who has been so lucky to be involved in such programs and events, I made myself responsible to educate other young girls to follow in my footsteps or even exceed my accomplishments.

caption: Lenovo employee volunteer Courtney Bass surprises three middle-school students, randomly drawn winners at Pathways Academy’s hackathon in December, 2015

The Lenovo Scholar Network, Karen Ondrick, and NAF have shaped me into a responsible female role model and I appreciate them for all of the opportunities given to me. I wouldn’t be the student I am today without all of them believing in me. Thanks again!

-Tiyah Thompson, Grade 11

Pathways Academy to Technology and Design