Meet Our Mentors – Shenelle Perera

Shenelle is an all-start mentor from UC Berkeley. She is about to hit the two year mark working with the same middle school girl, mainly learning Python. The lifelong impact on the student has been remarkable – she wants to go to MIT and be an engineer!

When did you start to code?

I started programming my freshman year of college. I had seen programs like Code Academy before, but my high school didn’t really emphasize the importance of computer science, so I didn’t really try to pursue programming by myself. I started with a class called CS10, which is taught in Snap! Berkeley’s version of Scratch. I fell in love with being able to create so much with programming, and loved the challenges and problem-solving aspects of coding. Being introduced to CS in such a visual way really helped me learn the basics and allowed me to continue taking CS classes without previous experience.

Why is it important for kids to start coding when young?

Everything we use today somehow incorporates technology. Understanding how they work and also building the skills needed to create more types of technology is a valuable skill for kids to learn. The type of thinking that programming fosters is also something that isn’t taught through other classes in school, so learning to code really helps kids pick up important problem-solving skills that they might not learn from school.

What do you find rewarding about teaching kids how to code?

The most rewarding part of teaching kids to code is seeing them fully understand a concept for the first time. It’s incredible how quickly kids can learn to create incredible projects with coding, and seeing them really understand how everything they’ve coded works together is a really great feeling. I love when I see kids continue to use these new skills in their projects, without me having to prompt them, because I know that they’re making progress.