Hollywood actress and entrepreneur Malinda Williams holds coding boot camp at JSU

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – A Hollywood actress visited Jackson State University on Saturday on a mission to empower young women who wish to pursue a career in computer science.

The actress, Malinda Williams, says it’s a coding bootcamp that’s geared towards HBCUs called E.S.T.E.A.M., which stands for entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering arts, and math.

The goal is to get many girls excited and prepared to go into the field of computer science.

“Knowing that she took the time to learn how to code herself when society had different offs facing her is empowering and inspiring,” Ka’Pri Burden, a student at JSU said.

Dozens of girls like Burden were under one roof at the Jackson State Science building on Saturday getting a one-on-one with the actress.

All of the students engaged in a variety of coding activities and workshops such as app development, S.T.E.A.M. training, and Apple programming language. They also got to learn how to build their own websites.

Willimas also got to share her knowledge with the students and her personal experiences in the industry.

“Computers only output what is put into them,” Williams said. “We need to have a say in the programming and what information goes into these systems so what we experienced can be reflected by what comes out of the systems.”

Williams says the four-week training is a part of her non-profit Foundation, Arise and Shine.

It aims to help young women at HBCUs be successful in their careers in computer technology with hands-on experiences. Burden says it’s an industry that’s declining with people who look like her.

“The industry so far for computer science is already low in statistics that supports Black women,” Burden said. “So, being a part of a program that supports that and wants to push us forward to increase those numbers is something I’m very proud to be a part of.”

Not only did the young group of women undergo training, but they also got to engage in sessions to help boost their confidence and motivation, something Willams says is very important.

“We’re giving them a foundation for confidence, we are loving on them and we’re letting them know that they are valued and supported and if there is anything that we can do to help make their future that much brighter, and know that they can walk into any room and own it, those are some of the concepts we want to impart, instill, teach, and demonstrate for them.”

Williams says her stay in the capital city has been nothing but amazing and says it’s an honor to be working with a great group of students.

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