The pursuit of programming

The+pursuit+of+programming

Seniors Genevieve Capolongo and Fiona Cahill have taken full advantage of the computer science curriculum at Sacred Heart Greenwich. Both students look forward to exploring computer science further in college, and hope new academic experiences will prepare them for enriching careers.

Computer science students Clare Hammonds ’17, Fiona Cahill ’17, and Genevieve Capolongo ’17 on a recent field trip to Google Headquarters in New York City.
Courtesy of Fiona Cahill ’17

“Computer science is a subject in which I am very passionate,” Genevieve said. “I knew that I wanted to pursue computer science when applying to colleges, and this is the main reason that helped me to make my decision.”
Genevieve will be attending the University of Wisconsin, Madison (UW-Madison) in the fall. UW-Madison has one of the top 15 computer science programs in the country, according to usnews.comGenevieve discovered her interest in computer science half-way through her freshman year at Sacred Heart Greenwich.

“My first official computer science class was my sophomore year when I took [Seminar in Computer Programing], but I started coding in my robotics class freshman year. In January, we competed in a coding competition. I realized I liked it and decided to keep taking it. [Computer science] kind of just fell into my lap, and I fell in love with it,” Genevieve said.
Fiona is hoping to study game design and computer science at the University of Southern California (USC). USC has one of the top 20 computer science programs in the US, according to usnews.com. Fiona has always had an interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). After taking a programming course the summer after her freshman year at Sacred Heart, she decided she wanted to major in an engineering field.
“Computer science is my favorite subject, but I am also interested in exploring courses that encourage interdisciplinary thinking, like interactive media, filmmaking, and photography,” Fiona said. “I was looking for a college where I could explore my interests in engineering and the arts, and the University of Southern California seemed like the perfect fit.”
Along with her participation in two Advanced Placement (AP) computer science courses and a post-AP course, Fiona attended programming and robotics summer courses at New York University (NYU) and Stanford University. Digital artists use their computer science skills to connect with users on a personal level, and she hopes that through studying programming at USC she will be able to create art and technology that impacts society.
“Anthony Howe, an artist that I admire for his kinetic sculptures, says, ‘what matters is putting human feeling into your design.’ I want to design computer programs that preserve human feelings by examining our unique characteristics and reactions,” Fiona said. “I hope to learn and develop my computer literacy to a level of second nature so that I can create new forms of communication and connectivity. I am interested in delving into video game design that explores mental health and encourages empathy.”
All STEM majors, and especially technological fields like programming, have a disparity in the ratio of male to female participants. Many organizations like Girls Who Code devote themselves to inspiring young girls to pursue computer science degrees in spite of the gender barriers. Sacred Heart has made educating its students in STEM fields and encouraging future female engineers and scientists a part of its mission.
“The world needs diversity in tech, and we need more women programmers,” Fiona said.
An infographic illustrating the gender gap within computer science across all levels of education.
Courtesy of csedweek.org
Problem-solving and programming skills are not limited to scientific careers. Education in computer science is especially valuable as society world transforms and becomes more digital. Learning to code is learning to write and understand the language these devices communicate in. Education in coding can be combined with outside knowledge to influence social justice issues and other global problems, according to forbes.com.
“While visiting USC, I spoke with a professor and discussed the different areas of interactive entertainment. I realized that this was an area where I could combine the intellectual foundations of computer programming, design, and visual arts into worlds of virtual reality (VR),” Fiona said. “VR is the perfect tool for inspiring empathy. If we could develop ways to put the viewer in new scenarios, then they could see, almost firsthand, the problems that other people are dealing with around the world.”
Computer science is a dynamic field of study that is one of the fastest-growing career paths in the US, according to computerscienceonline.orgStudents graduating with a Computer science degree also have a wide range of options for their occupation. Programmers, for example, develop software, hardware, and applications for use in businesses, the military, or everyday life.
“I would say to definitely take [a computer science class],” Genevieve said. “It is hard, but it is so rewarding to know computer science especially because it becoming a more popular and important field.”

-Daisy Steinthal, Staff Writer