Meet Briana Berger
Our extraordinary USA Ambassador
2nd July 2017
Hooked on Tech From a Young Age
Briana Berger is a junior at F.W Buchholz High School in Gainesville, Florida. She has always been fascinated with computer science since her first childhood toy computer. In elementary school, she created simple websites. Whilest in middle and high school, she edited and made videos based around technology on YouTube. So, this hobby fostered her appreciation for computer science. Then, as a freshman, she went to Rollins College to learn Java. She began to enjoy the logic of computer science and what she could do with it.
Throughout her life, Briana was the kid that wanted to know the inner workings of things and was not satisfied by just the answer. The process of discovery is the essence of what she loves about computer science.
Fully involved with the Community
Briana is also the Human Resources Director at Code Circle, secretary of Speech and Debate and treasurer of Mu Alpha Theta. Also, after seven years, she has received her second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and she has won four gold medals in forms and three gold medals in weapons at Florida State Championships.
A Passion for STEM
Besides her accomplishments, Briana is passionate about getting girls to join STEM. Briana believes that if she has a position in leading research or in a new technology, young girls would see this and believe that they can do it too. She is deeply committed to lowering the gender gap in technology.
“Briana wants to break down the boundaries”
On a personal note, people seem to doubt her role as a programmer simply because she is a girl. The only way that she has been able to gain their respect is by discussing all her accomplishments, AP classes, initiatives, and which coding languages she knows. They are often shocked. This is something she wants to change in the coding community. Briana wants to break down the boundaries and barriers because she has felt the effects of these barriers. She wants to correct it because she doesn’t want somebody to be excluded from coding because they look a certain way or are a certain gender.
No Holding Back
The prejudice held against her was a catalyst for her initiatives. Briana is the founder, CEO, and Chair Executive Director of coderGirls, a national nonprofit organization for female middle schoolers and high schoolers. Briana originally started the organization at F.W. Buchholz High School in 2016 due to the lack of girls in her computer science classes. coderGirls works to empower minority groups in technology by dismantling negative stereotypes surrounding technical careers. In doing so, coderGirls wants to create an impact, so the main focus for the chapters is to connect computer science to doing community outreach.
coderGirls was originally established for middle schoolers and high schoolers, yet it has been expanding to elementary school girls through Girl Scout Council Partners. Although coderGirls started in Gainesville it now has expanded with chapters in Maryland and New York.
Since the beginning, Briana has been working hard to create chapters and a curriculum for 85 Girl Scout councils and over 350 schools impacting over 500,000 girls. Currently, she is leading a national team of high schools so as to establish coderGirls across the United States.
Under coderGirls, I demonstrate to the girls that coding is not simply zeros and ones. It is about humanity. CoderGirls does this by connecting computer science students to their passions and friendships. I founded the coderGirls National Competition, where high school girls connect computer science to their passion, such as, music or dance, through a video. Moreover, I founded “inspire_her” as a coderGirls outreach by featuring high school students, college students, and technical professionals. It is coderGirls’ mission to inspire young girls by looking at female coder role models in high school and beyond. In addition, I started a mentorship program to help each chapter in code and management.
“Under coderGirls, I demonstrate to the girls that coding is not simply zeros and ones”
The most distinct aspect of coderGirls is the community. The members are a sisterhood of coders. A team. CoderGirls through evaluation surveys has shown that we have increased the likelihood of girls wanting to join STEM as a career by 85%. CoderGirls has allowed girls to explore their passions and outreach to others with code. CoderGirls has allowed girls to make friends and make coding non-isolationist. It has allowed the girls to explore the creative and teamwork aspects of code.
National Coding Week USA
Briana is the founder and president of SeniorTechNet. So, as an ambassador for National Coding Week, she plans to do events for both coderGirls and SeniorTechNet to broaden the organization’s reach. SeniorTechNet is to teach senior citizens how to utilize technology.
Under the organization, Briana has even taught some of the senior citizens how to code. Her favorite part of SeniorTechNet is how much the seniors are touched by the program. For example, a student was confused as to why his mobile phone wasn’t working. Briana showed him, and the biggest smile emerged. So, she is planning on hosting a couple of coding days for the seniors in honor of National Coding Week.
For coderGirls, she will host a weeklong competition of code for all chapters to participate. In addition, she is scheduling a coding movie night, where the girls will code for a couple hours, then watch code documentaries and Hidden Figures.
Written by Briana Berger July 2017