A Student Reflects on the Power of PINC

I

woke at 4:00 am this morning thinking about my experience in the San Francisco State University (SFSU) program known as PINC, or Promoting Inclusivity in Computing, and what a difference it has made in my life.

Pictured L to R: Kimberly Tsui (PINC student), Patti Robb (Intel), Darleen Franklin (PINC student), Belle Wei (Professor at San Jose State University), and Jordan Abraa (PINC mentor) at WiE Conference at SJSU in March 2017.

When I first heard about it, I never thought for a millisecond that I’d be among the first students chosen for the program, to venture into the world of coding and apply it to my scientific studies in microbiology in the Department of Biology at SFSU. The world of coding was foreign to me and I couldn’t see the connection between microbiology science and computing.

As the only female among my siblings, and the first in my family to attain a college education, I have worked very hard to achieve this education. After reading the words on the PINC flyer, “designed to lower the barriers that biology students experience in learning computer science skills” and “no prior computer science background needed,” I decided to give it a try.

My first course was “CSc306 -An Introduction to Java Programming” with a taste of App Inventor. Before enrolling in PINC, I avoided even using a QR scan code, but after learning and applying App Inventor, I was impressed with this type of coding program and began to use it.

The PINC coursework and instruction not only challenged me to think outside the box, but it opened my eyes to the benefits that technology brings to humankind. Through the App Inventor tutorial I learned about the birth of the “No Texting While Driving App” created by students who were learning coding, just like me. I thought to myself, “What can I do to help humankind using this technology?”

My answer came during the 2016 Christmas break. While sharing what I had learned in CSc306 with my young adult stepson, came the idea of making an app to monitor drunkenness at bars. My team adopted my idea for our final project on this journey in the PINC program.

As a young female minority scientist, I will never forget the opportunity PINC provided for me to meet some amazing women in science and engineering at the Silicon Valley Women in Engineering (WiE) Conference at San Jose State University in 2017. It was empowering to be among such a large, diverse group of women!!

This semester I learned about website development. I felt confident as I clicked on the View Page Source icon for the first time. Seeing the HTML and Javascript code and realizing it didn’t look foreign anymore was simply amazing to me!

Now when I read microbiology science articles and see the supplemental pages with coding for the additional data, I no longer shy away from it. I am more confident about my skills as a microbiologist to be able to access that data and learn more about my chosen field. I am also humbled by what PINC has taught me and I can envision the bountiful opportunities that await the future PINC students at SFSU.

I am proud to be making a difference in my community as a female scientist!

Darleen Franklin
Biology Instructional Services Facility Supervisor
Microbiology Research Associate
Biology Department
San Francisco State University

*San Francisco State University is part of the Technology Pathways Initiative launched in 2015 by the Center for Advancing Women in Technology (CAWIT). At SFSU, Biology majors in the PINC program are gaining important computing skills to expand their career opportunities in the Digital Age. (Photo Credit: David Schmitz)

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