Girls Who Code student ambassador, Aishwarya Manoharan, interviewed

Arif Bacchus

Microsoft’s products have long empowered the planet to do more. The company, however, also has many philanthropic efforts that go beyond their products, and also aims to empower young people to achieve more for themselves, their communities, and the world.

We Day California and We Day Seattle are both prime examples of these Microsoft philanthropic efforts. Held on April 7th and April 20th, the Microsoft-sponsored events empower the youth and feature stadium-sized celebrations of youth who make a difference both locally and globally. Aishwarya Manoharan, a standout participant of the April 20th event, was recently interviewed by Microsoft and detailed how she first learned to code, her experiences, her plans for the future, and more.

For Aishwarya, who is a Woodinville, WA High School senior, the journey to coding began in an AP Computer Science class. She tells Microsoft:

After signing up for AP Computer Science during my junior year, I was starting to doubt my choice when I discovered that I was one of four girls in a class of 36. But I was surprised to find that Microsoft employees, including a woman, were teaching the class through a program called TEALS. This program brings together volunteers from many tech companies to co-teach the subject with in-class teachers. TEALS helped me discover the real-world applications of what I learned in class every day. With the support of the volunteers and my computer science teacher, I realized how I could use computer science to make an impact on the world.

Aishwarya Manoharan (Photo from Microsoft)
Aishwarya Manoharan (Photo from Microsoft)

Manoharan compared code to a piece of art, telling Microsoft:

“I realized during my AP computer science class that code is original. It’s like a piece of art because nobody else uses the same lines or logic to write a program. I found coding as a way to express myself because each line of my code represented how I think. Above all, I loved the feeling of triumph every time my code worked. That was enough to lure me in.”

The stage at WeDay 2015.
The stage at WeDay 2015.

She also believes that computer science is incredibly versatile, and thinks that it can combine any field to make any task easier. According to her, this is why students should consider learning to code.  She said:

This feature is how technology is helping save the world. And anyone can do it. It’s not like physics or calculus equations that need to be memorized, or having to find a single correct answer. It’s all founded on creativity and logic. Code is original and written in accordance with who you are, and that’s the best part!

Sustainability and Environmental health are also important to young Aishwarya:

Next year I hope to major in computer science and explore how computer science can improve sustainability and environmental health. Technology can influence issues on a global scale and I want to play a role in those innovations across the board.

Last fall, Aishwarya participated in an event with Chelsea Clinton. The young woman shared her ideas with world leaders about using technology to address global environmental concerns.