STEM Story: Salma Kamni of GenZCoders
Who are you and what are your goals?
My name is Salma Kamni, and currently I am a Junior at Stagg High School who is heavily involved in both my school and community. I’m interested in providing more opportunities to the disenfranchised, and to do this, I work towards alleviating the struggles of minorities through lobbying senators and public speaking--such as through my TEDxTalk and being a Page for my State Senator. I represent my Junior Class as Student Council President and Debate Captain but I also provide numerous volunteering opportunities to my peers through my role of Volunteering Club Vice President. Due to my interest in computer science, I have Co-Founded the nonprofit organization "GenZCoders" which is targeted towards young youth in my community to get them excited and interested in STEM! One of my goals is to combine the fields of Computer Science and Political Science in the future by incorporating more technology in law practices to create unbiased data about minorities in American society.
Do you have any inspirations?
One of my biggest inspirations is Melba Pattillo Beals, the author of “Warriors Don’t Cry,”— a revolutionary novel that sheds light on the issue of discrimination from the perspective of someone who dealt with it on a daily basis. Melba, who I greatly relate to, is a seemingly average high school student that has the basic experiences of a teenage girl—fights with her little brother, her first serious crush, deep conversations with her grandma, and stressing about school. Behind the veil of normalcy lies a brave girl who broke barriers and was one of the first that fought desegregation in the education system. As a female Muslim American who wishes to pursue a career in STEM, Melba Pattillo Beals is a beacon of light that helps me fight against stereotypes and discrimination.
What caused you to start doing what you do?
I was a young and avid bookworm on a digital reading website, and it was there that I was exposed to coding for the first time. My passion for coding grew in high school, however it was there that I was met with discrimination and the stark difference between the enrollment of boys versus girls in computer classes. As one out of the two girls in my coding class, I was urged to create at least some type of change in my community in regards to this issue; thus, my organization GenZCoders was born. As the founder of this organization, we are continuously looking for passionate individuals to assist in decreasing the gender gap in STEM! Go to the website https://genzcoders.wixsite.com/stem for more information!
What is your favorite thing about what you do?
Technology, unlike many other fields, is rapidly changing. With every new year comes thousands of new inventions, innovations, and programs that use technology in some way, shape, or form. I know that if I pursue subjects like Computer Science in college, I know that by the time I graduate there will be an influx of new information that I have yet to learn. As someone who strives to continually improve and expand myself intellectually, I know that technology is the best subject to nurture those values of mine.
Why is it important for more women to enter STEM?
Despite the glaringly obvious gender gap in STEM, what people need to realize in regards to the importance of women in these fields is the amount of untapped potential not being accessed. The presence of Technology is only going to be increasing exponentially from this point on, and the issue of the decreasing percentages of women majoring in Computer Science only exacerbates the issue. Women, whether people want to admit it or not, are necessary for further innovation and new perspectives that must be present in order to achieve society’s growing need for technology.
If you could share one thing to girls aspiring to enter the STEM fields what would it be?
My advice to girls interested in entering STEM fields is recognizing your own self worth. Don’t let imposter syndrome or lack of experience stop you from anything! Being in a male-dominated field makes you so much more valuable because you provide something men cannot—new perspectives and untranslatable knowledge. Always recognize your self worth, even if others do not!