MONROE – Brooke Marchesi, who is entering her junior year at Monroe Township High School, spent the summer immersed in code, strengthening her interest in computer engineering during the Girls Who Code program at Pfizer Inc.’s headquarters in New York City.
Approximately 50,000 girls apply for the program, which is held at 10 different locations. Brooke was applicant 3,707 and received early acceptance in February for the New York location.
“I found about the program through my mom’s friend who works at Pfizer,” she said. “I had to fill out an application and write an essay.”
Brooke said she was very happy when she found out she was accepted.
“I felt like it was something I had done for myself for my future,” she said.
In the span of seven weeks, the 40 students dove into various STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) topics, including robotics, web apps, loops, variables, conditionals and functions, according to the Pfizer program.
The girls were also able to participate in workshops that were hosted by Pfizer’s digital colleagues. They learned about a variety of subjects, including how to use professional collaboration tools and the importance of combating counterfeit drugs on a global scale. One activity asked them to distinguish two drugs to see which was authentic.
The Girls Who Code program allows girls ages 15-18 to expand their technical and interpersonal skills. The students also use the summer program to build connections and friendships, all while jumpstarting their careers in technology.
The program ran from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays from July 8 to Aug. 23.
“It was a challenge because they let us branch out and decide on different programs,” she said.
Brooke said for the final project her team decided on creating a chat box similar to Amazon’s Alexa and had their chat box speak with a sarcastic passive voice.
Overall, Brooke said the program has been a life-changing experience, meeting brilliant girls from New York and New Jersey. Brooke was one of three from New Jersey to participate.
For the program, Brooke also got a taste of a full-time job commute to the city, traveling by bus from East Brunswick. The commute averaged two hours each way.
She said as she decides on her future endeavors, she is thinking about computer science engineering and biomedical engineering.
Girls Who Code is a non-profit organization that holds courses all across the country. The goal of Girls Who Code, according to its website, is to close the gender gap in technology.
For more information, visit girlswhocode.com.
Contact Kathy Chang at firstname.lastname@example.org.