Ladies Learning Code: Why the #YYJ Chapter is Great

I am lucky to live in Victoria, BC and work at UVIC. I have met some wonderful people on and off campus. I have been involved with Ladies Learning Code Victoria (#yyj) Chapter as a volunteer, learner, and sponsor. And, here I am again at an event. This weekend’s event is a Python session. We have approximately 40 learners here and a mentor at each pod.

The energy in the room is amazing. My favorite part, though, is the introduction of the mentors. Every mentor is either affiliated with UVIC or is a local business worker/owner who wants to see more women working as a programmer or developer. It’s quite breathtaking to meet the students involved with the Women in Computer Science and Engineering members. The learners vary in age from 15 – retired.

This time the session was held in one of our Active Learning Classrooms. The room is set up with the instructor in the center, and the students in pods. The set up requires lots of interaction between the students, and the instructor. I am happy to share that the attendees were blown away with the room. I do not feel smug, but rather like I am seeing the consequences of months of hard work by the leadership of the local Ladies Learning Code chapter, and the Classroom Infrastructure Committee at UVIC. OK, I take it back, maybe I feel just a little smug. Smug, and very happy.

Whenever I can see some active learning taking place, I feel a sense of pride. And, here I am witnessing the magic take place, as one of our undergrads leads the session. Yes, she’s teaching the session and doing an amazing job. Ladies Learning Code does a great job connecting our students and the local community.

 

Girls Learning Code: Scratching at the Surface 

This last weekend I volunteered at one of the local Ladies Learning Code events. I helped by doing social media for the Girls Learning Code event at St. Margaret’s, an all girls school in Victoria, BC. The “code” for the day was learning Scratch, and the girls had fun designing games. The school had donated space including the use of their labs, a large area for the girls to eat their lunches, and then the presentation of the games. We ended up using a computer lab at the Junior School and another lab next door at the Senior School campus. Thank you to the school! 

The day was fun and the girls demonsrated their wicked skills with Scratch. Some of the girls were familiar with Scratch, and others were new to it. Regardless, they had fun. The labs were warm with the hum of the computers and the din of conversation among the girls and the mentors roving around to assist. The mentors donated the bulk of their day to help. And, I want to speak to the mentors. 

The vast bulk of the mentors were women, and virtually all of them shared one message. They wished that Girls Learning Code existed when they were young, and that we need more women in the tech industry. One mentor noted that she has never worked on a project team with another woman. And, another mentor noted that in some of her Computer Science courses she is the only woman or one of three in a class of 50. Yeah, re-read those sentences. It’s 2015. We still have work to do. 

A few of the mentors were men and they echoed the comment. “We need more women and girls coding.” The mentors were great and coached the girls through the day. But, I really hope that the girls were left with the messages that it’s cool to like Math, Games, Computers, and Science. The mentors were introduced to the parents, and again the mentors shared their stories. I am sure that some of the girls and parents left the event with a sense of optimism. I hope to see these girls at more of the Girls Learning Code events. 

I used #llcyyj on Instagram, Vine, and Periscope. The Twitter handle is @llcvictoria. 

   

Getting Involved in Your Community

This post is both for students and non-students. More then five years ago, I resolved (without it being a New Year’s Resolution) to get more involved in my community more so. I am already engaged on campus and within some networks in Political Science and Higher Education. What I wanted to do was expand these networks and friendships off campus in the city where I reside.  To this end, I started to attend more community events and actively networked more off campus.

It is too easy to get lazy and keep on going to the same old haunts and seeing the same people (some wonderful). At first I must admit, it was a little strange. Would I meet people? Would it be fun? Yes, to answer both questions. I have networked, relaxed, and socialized and in the process have met many people. Some of the connections have proved fruitful for former students—yes, I have helped students get internships or jobs. But, it has also been great for me. I feel like I was getting comfortable and not exploring the city and making Victoria my home.

Specific to students, getting involved on campus and networking is not only fun, but can also help you with your future career goals. And, you will meet your peers who are going through the same things that you are. You might even make some life-long friendships. As an undergraduate advisor, I want students to feel like they are part of the campus community. Why? Students are apt to be more successful and happier during their studies. Seriously. Check out the clubs and course unions. And, for community members–come onto campus and network with faculty, staff, and students.

I include a photo below of the wonderful Hudson Mack, who invited me to attend his class at Royal Roads. Thank you to Hudson and his great students! Hudson took the photo.

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Girls Learning Code Day

Today my youngest daughter and one of her friends attended Girls Learning Code Day activities at UVIC. It was a packed day of coding in the Engineering Computer Science Labs for the kids and their parents. The crowed was packed with girls, a few boys, and lots of parents. The girls and their parents stormed the Ivory Tower or in this case the tower of the Engineering wing. This day probably saw the most girls and women in the building than at any other time.

There were numerous mentors at the event, too. The mentors were a good mix of UVIC graduate students, alum, and local mentors from tech companies or other businesses in Victoria. The Girls Learning Code Day took place across Canada and was sponsored by MasterCard. I would like to thanks Ladies Learning Code national, the Victoria Chapter, Erin Athene, and Linley Faulkner for all of their hard work in putting together the successful event.

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Ladies Learning Code

I was lucky enough to attend the annual Ladies Learning Code event. I met the local coordinator a few months back and am thankful that I attended a Tectoria event in the Spring and got on the mailing list for this group. I ended up playing email tag with a few people, but ultimately all those points of contact led to establishing some successful connections. Today’s event took place throughout Canada. Some 700 plus women and men were coding or learning how to code. I t was amazing to see how so many of the mentors have an affiliation with UVIC.  A big thank you to the larger organization: Ladies Learning to  Code and to all the wonderful volunteers. Thank you to Fort Tectoria for the space and the support for today’s event. The image included is from Ladies Learning Code. Thank you! 
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Mexican Food & BlogHer

I’m in San Jose, Calif for BlogHer14 and while here I am having full days of networking, learning, and Mexican food. Yes, Mexican food. As an American ExPat living in Victoria, BC, Canada, it is really hard to get good Mexican food consistently. I joke that I miss my family, the weather, and Mexican food. And, on the occasional day in Victoria the order might vary. I should add that I am Latina and I grew up on Mexican food at home. I know Mexican food and it is my favorite–it reminds me of home.

I have been to Mezcal, Mexicali Grill, and Super Taqueria. The photos are from each restaurant in the order noted. I have had a great trip thus far and look forward to more conversation, learning, and Mexican food.
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Word Camp Victoria 2013

I attended my third Word Camp in Victoria AKA #yyj this past weekend. It was another great event, where I learned lots about Word Press and the various functions of the platform. More importantly though, I got to see some of my students in action, as we sat on a panel together about blogging. I’m so impressed with these students and others and just want to send positive energy out there to: Renae Sinclair, Adrienne Sanders, and Alannah James. I’ve placed them in the order of our presentations. Way to go!

If you haven’t had the opportunity to attend a Word Camp, I would suggest that you do or look for a Word Press Meet up in your region. It’s good to bounce ideas off of others and to also hear about the plug ins that are tested or the favorites of the more advanced users. I’m really lucky to live in a tech saturated city–another name for Victoria is Tectoria. And, this May Social Media Camp will take place. Check it out!