Thirty-one elementary students from Las Cruces received graduation certificates and medallions after completing a three-month coding program known as “Girls Who Code” which allows them to pair with students from New Mexico State University on a weekly basis.
The Hermosa Heights Elementary students in third to fifth grade were offered the program in order to partner students with counterparts in engineering, math, science, coding, photography and videography fields. “Girls who Code” was designed for female students, but is not exclusively offered to just girls.
“Though educational partnerships like ‘Girls Who Code,’ we are able to inspire our students in ways that go beyond the classroom,” said Las Cruces Public Schools Superintendent Greg Ewing. “We are grateful for our partners at NMSU, and their shared commitment to education.”
Denise Rodriguez-Strawn is the founder of NMSU’s Service Learning for Educational Distinction (SLED) program. She’s worked alongside former Hermosa Heights Elementary counselor Bernie Diaz Crawford for 13 years in order to launch the Girls Who Code Program.
Rodriguez-Strawn’s Educational Leadership class students were tasked with developing “Girls Who Code.” The class was divided into three teams, the NMSU Aggie Tutors, who were in charge of tutoring students at Hermosa Elementary; a team created specifically to teach videography with the help of Paris Giles, a web/digital media designer from NMSU; and a team to organize the awards banquet. The students from NMSU consisted of student athletes, students from the Honors College, computer science majors and engineering majors. Rodriguez-Strawn said it was a very special opportunity for her students to connect with students at Hermosa Heights, adding that each student learned something valuable from the others.
“I was really proud of this particular group because they had an understanding of where these young women come from,” Rodriguez-Strawn said. “These are opportunities that each of them wished they had, especially my students of color and my students that come from impoverished areas. Many of us, like myself, come from a school very much like Hermosa. It was that connection that really motivated all of us as a team working on this project, working outside of class, working in class on group workdays. Many of us, being first-generation Latinos, coming from these communities, attending these types of schools, were completely invested in wanting to pay it forward.”
The graduation was held on April 24 in the cafeteria at Hermosa Heights. Facilitators included Georgina Acosta, Logan Muxsworthy, Madisyn Asbury, Norma Farrell, Chad Johnson, Elijah Beamon, Lorraine Gallardo, Yesel Carrillo, Kerri Whitt and Oscar Juarez, Jr.
3rd grade graduates:
Cesar Lujan, Brissa Gallegos, Zoei Arias, Alise Eatman, Jasmine Carrera, Yvette Cadena, Mya Serna, Aubry Lynn Medina, Dominque Achulea, Valerie Pena
4th grade graduates:
Natalia Rodriguez, Heavenlie Ramos, Adrianna Vilareal, Airam Richa, Hannah Calderon, Cyndee Soto, Sara Arcos Alvarado, Fatima Carranza, Clarissa Del Rio, Alesandra Loysoya, Oli Acevedo, Paloma Lambert, Layla Valencia, Zayra Montoya
5th grade graduates:
Ariya Richard, Mariana Castillo, Ari Clark, Ulani Radtke, Naomie Silvestre, Kenya Rodriguez, Ezekiel Acosta