Northside HS students participate in program for promising Latino computer science scholars

Conexiones is a digital literacy and computer science program for students in Latino communities across the U.S. Now in its third year, the program is aimed at students ages 14 to 18 and offers classes on digital privacy and security, combatting cyberbullying, identifying misinformation, and more.

Conexiones was created by The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and is sponsored by T-Mobile. It’s designed to encourage and improve computer science literacy in Latino communities and empower young people to pursue careers in STEM.

“It’s important for [people in Latino communities] to learn how to work on computers and learn about computer science because a lot of them aren’t given many opportunities,” said Conexiones participant Elizabeth Rodriguez. “A lot of my family doesn’t know how to work on computers and doesn’t know much about technology, and the few who do didn’t go into computer science as a career and they had regrets after seeing how much of a success they could have been.”

With the support of their computer science teacher, Dr. Sonia Noyola, Rodriguez and fellow Northside HS student Joe Bazan were chosen to participate in the program and intend on pursuing careers that utilize computer science after high school.

“I want to study computer science in college,” said Rodriguez. “I’m not exactly sure what career I want to pursue, but I’ve always been fascinated by making programs, hacking … Overall, technology has always been very intriguing to me.”

Bazan sees a future full of possibilities utilizing his computer science expertise.

“I want to be a physical trainer,” he said. “I’ve been researching how computer science can help in that field.”

Bazan explained that there are exercise machines that run training courses and analytics as you exercise, proof that computer science and code development are integral in even the most seemingly unrelated fields.

“Growing up, I never knew that these kinds of things existed until I got into high school,” Bazan said. “I’m sure there are other Hispanics like myself who don’t know that these resources are available to them.”

Bazan and Rodriguez hope to see more Latino students follow in their footsteps.

“I would tell younger students to take the time to figure out what they want to do, learn more about it, and ask teachers,” Rodriguez said. “Luckily, we have Dr. Noyola. It’s possible to do a lot when you have support.”

For more information about the Conexiones program and to learn how you might get your students involved, visit the LULAC website.