Class of 2014: Opening a gateway for girls 
 
Fresh from graduating from Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology, Talazia Moore will head to North Carolina State University in the fall to major in computing and information technology. First, however, she will lead a summer camp June 16-20 at Berry for 24 middle school girls interested in computer science.

“I want girls to know computer science can be fun and exciting,” said Talazia. “It allows you to use your creativity. It also provides many career options in science and in other fields.”

Many people don’t realize computer science is more than sitting in front of a computer she said. It’s versatile and applicable to many fields like marketing, finance and retail. What she most enjoyed was creating games, writing code and using a variety of software applications. She also developed skills in solving problems, logical thinking, writing, research and planning.

“She excelled in all of her classes,” said Sharon Jones, the school’s career and technology education coordinator. “It’s wonderful that she wants to share her knowledge with other girls.”

Talazia is sharing her expertise thanks to the recognition she received from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) this year. As the national runner up winner in the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing, which acknowledges young women for their outstanding aptitude in computing and technology, she was eligible to write a grant to conduct her summer camp. She was awarded $2,000.

“I had never written a grant before,” said Talazia. “I made sure to include a detailed explanation of my idea and how it would positively impact females.” 

The grant funds helped with recruitment materials, t-shirts, bags and scholarships.

“It’s been a lot of work. I had to plan all of the lessons and activities and secure guest speakers,” said Talazia. “If I can spark an interest in this field for just one girl, it will be worth it.”

During the week, camp participants will meet other tech-minded girls while learning the basics of computing. In addition, they will participate in a career discovery day and hear guest speakers from Central Piedmont Community College and IT-ology.

Each girl will be asked to develop a health and fitness game or app. On the last day of the camp, they will present their projects to a panel of judges who will award scholarships to the top three winners.

“When I was younger, I always heard computer science was boring,” said Talazia. “Computer scientists create new and useful things every day, sometimes with a click of a button. I wouldn’t call that boring.”