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Lynda Umuhoza: Teaching coding to local campers and inspiring the next generation of women in tech

PROVIDENCE, RI [Brown University] — When Lynda Umuhoza considered what she wanted to accomplish in her first summer in Providence, the international student from Rwanda set two goals: explore the city and make a positive impact.

The rising Brown sophomore earned an internship with the Partnership for Providence Parks through the Swearer Center’s iProv fellowship program, which connects approximately 30 Brown undergraduates with full-time summer work experiences in partnership with Providence-based nonprofits every year.

“As I look at the local organizations that have a partnership with the Swearer Center, P3 seems to directly engage with the community and students at summer camps, which is what I’m looking for,” Umuhoza said. “P3 also allowed me to tailor the internship to fit my interests and passions.”

During the summer, P3 works with city departments to create new experiences for students who attend summer day camps at Providence-area recreation centers. Tasked with helping build the new program, Umuhoza, who is concentrating in computer science at Brown, knew she wanted to create a community of young women interested in computer science. She is inspired by her work with the Women in Computer Science student group on campus and wants to create a similar empowering environment for women in Providence.

“My first goal is to help create an environment where these girls can develop their interest in computer science and develop their skills, especially since they are not represented in this field,” said he. “Many of these students also go to public schools, which sometimes don’t have the necessary resources to explore and develop these skills.”

To introduce young campers to computer science, Umuhoza created a one-hour coding class that he taught on Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout July and August at two central locations: Rogers Recreation Center and the West End Community Center. Each center hosts more than 50 local students each week from nearby Providence neighborhoods. In groups as large as 10, students – usually ages 7 to 12 – take turns in computer labs building animated dance parties and music videos using educational games from Code .org, Scratch Jr., and Khan Academy. For many participants, this was their first introduction to coding.

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