Peta Clarke; Technical Enthusiast Starts Black Girls Code Chapter in New York
Kimberly’s Black Girls Code is continuing to expand across the globe, making an impact on girls of color.
Peta Clarke is a co-leader for Black Girls Code in New York with a passion for technology with experiences in web development, web designing and testing. She went to a Vocational and Technical High School, where she chose an electrical engineering track. She said her decision to go into the engineering field was due to the influence of her uncle.
Two years into the program, her principal invited her to participate in another program at the school. It was the Cisco Networking Academy, where she learned to build and design computer networks. When Clarke went to college, she tried her hand at computer programming and fell in love.
Clarke and her close friend and “partner in technology,” Donna Knutt knew there weren’t a lot of girls of color in the field of technology and were wanting to make a change. A cousin of Clarke’s sent her a link to the Black Girls Code organization. This immediately caught Clarke’s attention and she sent an e-mail to Kimberly Bryant right away, asking if there was a BGC chapter in New York. She replied saying there wasn’t, but she was looking to make one.
Clarke and Kimberly had a conference call, going over the details of the (organizations mission and Kimberly’s vision.) Kimberly mentioned she would be having a meet and greet in New York in March.
“I called Donna and told her about Black Girls Code and she said she had already registered,” Clarke said. “We became like Kimberly’s stalkers, e-mailing her and asking for information on what we needed to get the New York Chapter started.”
The Black Girls Code New York Chapter began in 2013, with Clarke and Knutt as the co-leaders and a team of their seven close friends. With the support of Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information System they were able to host their first workshop and teach girls between the ages of 7-18.) Clarke admitted that they also had kids around the age of 5 in their program. Their workshops include building a webpage in a day (HTML, Java Script, CSS, etc.), developing mobile apps, game developing using Beta The Game with the help of Hidden Level Games Co., and robotics.
“The girls develop their own games using coding skills,” said Clarke. “With Beta when their games are done, they are able to create doors to connect to each other’s games and levels.”
Clarke also works as a Senior I.T. Analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. While one day helping her brother with a report for school on the Federal Reserve Bank, she went online to see there was an opening for an analyst with a computer programming background. She went through 2 or 3 rounds of interviews and a month or two of background checks and got the job.
“I wear many hats,” she said. “My responsibilities include computer programming, data base programming, software testing, business analysis and assuring the quality of the Bank’s systems.”
Clarke admitted that in either September or October, she will be stepping down as the Chapter Lead of BGC to give another individual the opportunity to lead and make a difference in their way.