Geekwise Academy teaches underserved populations how to code

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Veteran Jennifer Lewis is no longer a stranger to coding after enrolling in the Geekwise Academy at Bitwise Industries.

"When I got here, it was more than I could've ever imagined that it could be. Just getting your foot in the door is big," Lewis said. "That's all I needed. A foot in the door to say 'hey I still have value.' I can learn, I can adjust, I can adapt."

She served during the Gulf War.

Geekwise Academy has started a specialized program, targeted toward underserved populations like veterans and the formerly incarcerated.

"It's helped with how well, I overall, interact with people and the experience. I feel more confident about what I can do," said Miguel Hernandez, program participant.

The course is 14 weeks long. In the first six weeks, participants learn computer skills and coding. Then they take on a social impact project.

The program has been going so well they're looking into serving other groups.

"The African American community, LGBTQ+ community, Hmong community and Spanish speaking course as well. We're super excited to see how we're able to change the trajectory of their lives and navigate through the tech sector," said Stephanie Moreno, student success specialist.

If participants do well, they could get a paid internship.

As for Lewis, she's created camaraderie in a different setting with fellow veterans.

"We instantly took to teamwork. That's ingrained in you. It doesn't matter where you come from, what you look like, the mission is what' s important. You come together and make that happen," she said.

She hopes to continue coding and graphic artwork and see what doors open.

Geekwise Academy is open to the public and courses are every six weeks. The next specialized session is in March.
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