Teen is encouraging girls to be computer savvy

Before graduating from Del Norte High School next June, Shruti Verma said she is planning on spending the next year mentoring girls in computer science as a way to “pay it forward” in gratitude to those who have encouraged her.

Verma, 16, has been “heavily involved” in the computing world over the past three years. “I really enjoy computers (and) problem solving,” she said. “The best part is coding because you figure out how to fix problems presented to you.”

The daughter of 4S Ranch residents Rakesh and Hema Verma said her father, a software engineer, was among those who encouraged her early-on. “He never made me feel I couldn’t go into computer science,” she said.

Wanting to share with others what she has learned over the years, Verma recently founded a computer science summer camp for middle school girls, has been a guest speaker on a cyber security-focused radio station and serves as the vice president of the district-wide Girl Up coalition.

Verma said she joined most of her high school extracurriculars “by chance,” but younger girls might not have the same exposure to the computer science world and not have as easy access. “I am a person who gets opportunities for herself,” she said.

For this reason, one of her endeavors — mentoring seventh and eighth grade girls at the Design 39 Campus (next door to Del Norte High) for the international Technovation Challenge — has been so important to her.

“We have been meeting over the summer and the competition is (during) the school year,” she said. To help 10 girls prepare for the challenge, the CyberAegis 14-week training program is being taught by Verma and a couple friends in her garage where a television and white boards have been set up, she said.

Per its website, “Technovation offers girls around the world the opportunity to learn the skills they need to emerge as tech entrepreneurs and leaders. Every year we invite girls to identify a problem in their community, and then challenge them to solve it.” The girls work in teams to build a mobile app to solve the identified community problem and a business plan to launch the app.