By Mandy Mitchell, WRAL reporter & Hannah Webster, WRAL.com editor
DURHAM, N.C. — A Durham startup is making dreams come true for adults and high school students who want to work in technology.
Code the Dream provides free classes for people who are traditionally under-represented in the technology and computer science industries.
Coding was never the kind of work Daisy Magnus-Aryitey imagined herself doing.
“Three years ago, I was a stay-at-home mom,” she said.
She said she never considered herself to be “good” with computers, but she now has a successful career as a computer programmer.
“I know that my life changed,” Magnus-Aryitey said. “My family’s life changed, just to be able to get into this space and to be able to get into something that I never saw myself doing.”
Her life changed thanks to an organization called Code the Dream, a program that gives people from under-represented populations an entry point into the tech industry.
Magnus-Aryitey, who is originally from Ghana, is now the director. “Our students are usually first-generation Americans, recent immigrants, minorities, women or people from low-income backgrounds,” she said.
Most people involved in the program had never seen a line of code before their first class.
Students quickly learn the basics, and within a year, the best students are building their own apps, usually for non-profits in the Triangle.
“It means the world. Just to have access to the space. Access to the resources, the instructors and getting your foot in the door,” student Manuel Ramos Gonzalez said.
They are then able to get jobs in technology and coding, industries with increasingly high demands.
“The best part is watching students progress and remembering where they were just a few months ago,” Executive Director Dan Rearick said.
Crystal Williams-Brown was working in a grocery store before she learned about Code the Dream.
She always had an interest in technology but didn’t think she could pursue a career in the industry.
“I would love if it could inspire someone who has brushed it off and said that’s not for me if someone would just see and hear me and just give it a shot,” Williams-Brown said.
Code the Dream classes, for high school students and young adults, are available year-round.
“Now with our classes they come in and say oh I am not the only immigrant. I am not the only person of color I am not the only one in this environment,” Magnus-Aryitey said. “That is what makes code the dream so special.”