Kawatra and Koerwer Attend Conferences from Coast to Coast

By Kate Burgess, News Editor

This spring, sophomores Pallavi Kawatra and Holly Koerwer traveled to opposite sides of the country to meet with industry and world leaders as well as other selected students from across the globe through their participation in the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and the She++ Summit.

Koerwer visited Stanford University and the surrounding as part of the Summit hosted by She++, which was created by two female graduates of Stanford and aims to help introduce more girls to the field of technology by encouraging students to teach each other.

Koerwer was one of 30 US high school student awarded this unique opportunity to spend four days in Silicon Valley touring tech companies, meeting Stanford students and attending the She++ Gala. Koerwer was selected for her initiative in bringing coding to Trinity Hall by starting a “Girls Who Code” club, creating Hour of Code with the freshmen at Trinity Hall and working on a 3D printing workshop within the school.

Sophomore Holly Koerwer tries out a Google bike while visiting the Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Sophomore Holly Koerwer tries out a Google bike while visiting the Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California.

“There is such a big need for computer science [but] not many people are going into computer science…I think the reason is because when you’re little you grow up hearing about becoming a teacher or a firefighter but never a computer programmer,” Koerwer said.

“Kids are less likely to go into a field they hadn’t heard much about, and I think that if you expose kids to it when they’re little then they will be more interested and more likely to explore it more in high school when there are more options for it.”

This belief led to the main part of her initiative, {Future Can} Code, which facilitates resource kits to grammar school teachers who want to start a coding class but are unsure of how to begin. Koerwer pilot-tested her design at her former school, Holy Cross School in Rumson. “I hope in the future to expand to other schools,” Koerwer said.

While Koerwer’s work focused on exposing younger students to the growing field of technology, Kawatra’s efforts centered on exposing – and combatting – the lack of women’s rights worldwide.

“Women should be far more ahead than they are today,” said Kawatra, who attended the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), a week-long conference held at the United Nations. After being selected to attend the conference last year with the Girl Scouts as a representative of the Jersey Shore Council, this year Kawatra was selected to be a girl advocate with the Working Group on Girls, an NGO (non-governmental organization). Kawatra is already eager to return next year as a woman’s advocate because she feels that voices like hers are vital in the fight for women’s well-deserved equality.

“Because women’s rights are so deprived right now, especially in this 21st century as we are evolving so much, it is sad to see how behind women are exactly,” Kawatra said. “If you can, get involved. Your voice, although it may seem small to you, in the bigger picture it is much bigger. I would recommend [the experience] for anyone. It is a life-changing experience. You get to hear things and see things that you wouldn’t on a normal basis.”

Kawatra shared what she did and learned at CSW in a presentation to the student body after she returned from the conference, telling harrowing stories of women’s struggles and impressive opportunities to meet with world leaders and students from around the world to discuss what they believe will help improve improve the future for women and girls.


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