PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — When Lynda Umuhoza considered what she wanted to accomplish during her first summer in Providence, the international student from Rwanda set two goals: explore the city and make a positive impact.
The rising Brown sophomore secured an internship with the Partnership for Providence Parks through the Swearer Center’s iProv fellowship program, which connects approximately 30 Brown undergraduates with full-time summer work experiences in partnership with Providence-based nonprofits each year.
“When I looked at the local organizations that have a partnership with the Swearer Center, P3 seemed very directly engaged with the community and students at summer camps, which was what I was looking for,” Umuhoza said. “P3 also allowed me to tailor the internship to fit my interests and passions.”
During the summer, P3 partners with city departments to create new experiences for students attending summer day camps at Providence-area recreation centers. Tasked to help build a new program, Umuhoza, who is concentrating in computer science at Brown, knew she wanted to create a community of young girls interested in computer science. She was inspired by her work with the Women in Computer Science student group on campus and wanted to create a similar empowering environment for girls in Providence.
“My initial goal was to help create an environment where these girls can nurture their interest in computer science and develop their skills, especially since they are underrepresented in this field,” she said. “Most of these students also go to public schools, which sometimes may not have the necessary resources to explore and develop these skills.”
To introduce the young campers to computer science, Umuhoza developed a one-hour coding class that she taught Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout July and August at two center locations: Rogers Recreation Center and the West End Recreation Center. Each center hosts more than 50 local students each week from nearby Providence neighborhoods. In groups as large as 10, the students — mostly age 7 to 12 — took turns in the computer labs building animated dance parties and music videos using educational games from Code.org, Scratch Jr., and Khan Academy. For many participants, it was their first introduction to coding.