CodePath’s Tech Fellows are ambitious student leaders who deliver CodePath’s courses to their university campuses. In Spring 2021, CodePath was able to award 10 scholarships to a few exemplary Tech Fellows. Recently, I caught up with Ayomide Ajayi, to learn more about her experience as an Android Tech Fellow at Morgan State University. You can read our conversation below.
Interview questions are bolded, and the scholars’ answers are italicized.
Note: this interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
How’d you first hear about CodePath and the Tech Fellow program?
I heard about the CodePath Tech Fellow Program when I spoke to my professor at Morgan State University. He’s always been interested in providing different opportunities for students, because in my computer science curriculum, we don’t have any mobile app development courses. And a lot of us complain about wanting those skills, especially for [participating in] hackathons. So he brought the iOS course to Morgan State University when I was a student. It just seemed like a really cool opportunity. Like, who has the chance to learn iOS for free? I didn’t have to go to Udemy, or Coursera, or force myself through YouTube videos. It was a class. So that was how I first heard about CodePath.
After I finished the iOS course, I was working hand in hand with my professor. He really liked the project I was working on, and he told me about the CodePath Tech Fellow opportunity [for teaching an Android course on campus]. He could tell I really enjoyed the course, and because I was a prior student, I knew and understood what other students were looking for in the course. I was willing to fill in that role for students and not only help students with the technical stuff, but also provide mentorship. I built a lot of relationships, and I reinforced concepts [for myself] by explaining them to others. So it was a great experience for me.
What was the most rewarding part of being a Tech Fellow with CodePath?
The most rewarding part. Oh my goodness. So the first day of class, I did a Zoom poll, and I asked everyone about how comfortable they were with Android development, or if they had any prior experience. Only one person in my class had prior experience. To be able to go through the entire 14 weeks, and then actually see students who had said that they had no experience with Android development build amazing applications for demo day was amazing to see.
One of my teams made it to the final rounds. It was so exciting. He incorporated machine learning [into his application]. Students go above and beyond, and the fact that I was part of that process, and we’d try to figure out different solutions together, debug problems together, and then see students come out of that with amazing apps in the end was really rewarding to see.
What was your first reaction when you found out you received a scholarship from CodePath?
Oh, my goodness, I was so excited. When I finally got the email, I was so happy and relieved. During my freshman and sophomore years in college, my family and I were paying for school, and it was really strenuous. So it was really rewarding that I was awarded the scholarship. I was super, super grateful.
I just felt like I did something that I enjoyed as a Tech Fellow. And then I was rewarded for it. And it’s really cool to be rewarded for something that you actually enjoyed. I’m so grateful for the scholarship.
What’s one topic you feel like you’ve gotten more comfortable with after being a CodePath Tech Fellow?
[As an iOS student], I had very little experience with Swift, so that was a challenge. After junior year, learning Swift, I learned so much. I learned about optionals in Swift. It was perfect for my internship because for the internship I had afterwards, I was writing code in Swift. So literally, I was applying what I learned at CodePath in my internship.
And then, as a Tech Fellow for my Android development class, RecyclerViews were initially difficult for me to grasp. It took me a while and because it took me a while, I understood that it would take students a while to grasp too.
In class, I did a code with me session. Basically, I wrote code for RecyclerViews, because I wasn’t really familiar with the syntax in Java, because I only had Python experience. So forcing myself to do that in class was forcing me to remember the concept that I needed to remember, because now I was explaining it to someone else. So when they asked me a question that I couldn’t answer about RecyclerViews, I would respond by saying, “Okay, I’ll get back to you next class.” So by the next class, I would be sure to understand it, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to answer the student. So that was how I made being a Tech Fellow a learning experience for myself as well.
As a Tech Fellow, is there a student you are most proud of?
Yes, his name is Shibumi, and I’m going to shout him out here. He is so, so, so dedicated to app development.
I remember, we took the iOS course together, and he came around to take the Android class that I was leading. He’s very, very passionate about machine learning and natural language processing. He’d say something like, “What cool technologies can I infuse into my project? CodePath has taught me so much–we know how to use the API, we know how to use the database, but I want to do something cooler.”
When he started his group project, [he came up with a very ambitious project plan] and I asked him, “You’ve set out so much, are you sure you can do this?” He’s like, “I got this, l’ll prove it to you I can do this.”
And he came through and did it. I really enjoyed his final project. He used a pose estimation machine learning model to make a form checker when people were working out. So we were working out to ensure that you had the correct form. He just used that pose estimation model in a different way than I would have thought about. It was really cool to see that in his Android project. And same goes for my iOS project when I was in the same group as him. We worked on this application that allowed users to take photos of their food ingredients, and then recommend different food suggestions to them. Again, we went above and beyond, and we incorporated concepts that we weren’t taught in class. So taking that extra step, doing research on how to do certain things, and dealing with them when they don’t work. He just puts in extra time and effort, and that makes me so proud of him.
What would you tell someone who is considering whether to apply to become a Tech Fellow?
Passion is really, really important. Do you have a reason why [you want to be a Tech Fellow]? So for students who are considering being a Tech Fellow, I would say, “What is your reason?” Like, why do you want to be a tech fellow? What are you hoping to achieve? What are your goals?
Have you defined your goals? As a Tech Fellow, during the first week of class, I told all the students, “I want to make sure that you all get an A in the class, I don’t want you getting B’s, C’s, nothing. I want you all to get an A, because I know you can get an A.”
I was committed to supporting them to get an A in the class. So when a student was missing an assignment, I pinged them a lot, until they responded to me, and they did the assignment. Or we’d meet, so I could help them with the assignment.
So it’s how dedicated, how passionate are you? This is an amazing opportunity, and it puts you in the position to learn how to explain concepts, and how to relate to students.
So I would ask, “How passionate are you? Is it something that you really want to do? Why do you want to do it?” But most importantly, I’ll let them know that this is a rewarding experience, [based on] my own personal experience with CodePath, [based on] what I was able to accomplish.
To learn more about CodePath’s Tech Fellow program, and how to lead a course on your campus, please visit here.