Roman Philosopher Seneca once said that “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” One could easily replace ‘luck’ with success, and in the case of Del Valle high school sophomore and Code2College alumna Amanda Escalante, it’s not hard to see that she has been destined for success for some time.
A Cuban native, Amanda’s family immigrated to the United States for the prospect of a brighter future. But it was upon her arrival to New York City that she quickly realized that she was in a new world. This was where her passion and fascination for Tech began.
Walking around Times Square in New York City, captivated by the glowing digital screens and billboards, she wondered how it was all made possible. What’s more, she wanted to make it happen herself. “It was at that moment I knew that my place was working in Technology,” shared Amanda.
Just a few years later, Amanda was admitted to the Code2College program where she was afforded the opportunity to gain in-depth lessons about software development, the Tech industry and many of the intricacies that first piqued her interest in Technology all those years ago in Times Square. “My experience with Code2College has been unforgettable and it is a perfect representation of what the definition of diversity is. I’ve worked with students and volunteers from all sorts of backgrounds, but the diversity of skills I’ve learned don’t stop at coding. Code2College has also allowed me to improve my public speaking, research and team communication skills,” shared Amanda. “These skills have increased my passion for computer science and enriched me with greater exposure to teamwork, leadership, communication, computer skills and time management.”
Code2College partners with corporations each year who hold monthly Professional Skills Workshops for its students. In 2018, Amanda walked into her first corporate office and professional skills workshop at RetailMeNot. “RetailMeNot was where I confronted my fear of public speaking and also the place where I had the opportunity to apply for a high school software engineering internship through Code2College,” Amanda explained. “I have a great deal of respect for RetailMeNot for their corporate culture and commitment to the community.”
After several months of high attendance, exemplary performance and demonstrating a high degree of professionalism in the Code2College program, Amanda was invited to interview for a Code2College summer internship at RetailMeNot. “As soon I stepped foot into the building, I was greeted with such warmth. It was clear to me early on that this would be the perfect environment for me to learn for the summer.” She continued, “Every person I met had a different story to tell and was lovely, intelligent, and unique.” Shortly thereafter, Matt Stephenson, the Code2College Executive Director, called Amanda to let her know the great news – she would received the offer to become a Summer 2019 Code2College intern at RetailMeNot.
Because of her hard work and the support of volunteer instructors, workshop mentors, and Code2College staff, Amanda will become the youngest high school software engineering intern that RetailMeNot has ever hosted through the Code2Collge program.
“I am looking forward to my internship this summer because I get real-life experience of what I will be doing as a part of my career with the help of many people,” shared Amanda. “I am also looking forward to Code2College next year because I want to keep learning about what I’m passionate about.” Amanda has been a perfect example of what high school students can accomplish through Code2College. She has taken every opportunity the program has provided her and continues to succeed.
In addition, Amanda was selected as one of the top nine students in the program to participate in the 2019 Code2College Demo Day, and won first place for her technical capstone project: a scientific calculator web application. Her win also secured her a $1,000 college scholarship courtesy of Code2College corporate partner, SailPoint.
Code2College equips girls and students of color in Central Texas with the technical and professional skills necessary to compete globally. In her journey as a student with Code2College Amanda shared, “This program is important for the Austin Tech Landscape because professional development is an asset to every profession.” She added, “Young students need to be given an opportunity in the tech industry to demonstrate that they’ve got what it takes and to build a successful future for themselves.”
Amanda plans to continue her climb by attending an Ivy League school in the future, preferably Princeton like her idol – mathematician Alan Turing. She plans to get a Masters Degree in Computer Science and work in either cybersecurity or artificial intelligence.
Amanda will graduate from high school in 2021. Her incredible work in and commitment to the Code2College program has already been met with great opportunity: both her Code2College Summer Internship at RetailMeNot and the college scholarship she earned for winning the top prize at the 2019 Code2College Demo Day. Amanda wants future students to know, “There are no limits to what you can accomplish, except the limits you place on your own thinking.”