Coding for the Community: How One KU Coding Boot Camp Student Elevated His Abilities to Affect Real Change
Reggie Brown always looks for ways to contribute to his Kansas City community. But after joining the KU Coding Boot Camp, he realized he could use his coding and development skills to influence the real and lasting change he sought.
“I’m driven by building relationships and helping to improve the lives of the people around me,” Brown said. “And the best way I can do that is by using my technical skills to make sure they have agency to prosper and flourish.”
The boot camp provided him with the resources, structure, and motivation to bolster his own coding abilities — and empower people in an entirely new way.
A budding passion
As a kid, after moving to the Kansas City suburb of Shawnee with his family, Brown spent a lot of time at the local public library. At 12, he discovered books on HTML and CSS — and a lifelong interest in coding.
His infatuation soon grew. In the Boy Scouts, Brown met another boy who was also interested in computers and coding. The two formed a tight bond around their mutual passion.
“I think maybe that was the foundation for my understanding that technology is a way to bring people together,” Brown said.
Back then, Brown didn’t become a full-fledged developer. He took a few college programming classes and built simple websites. But there was a gap in his knowledge base.
Fortunately, a friend told him about a coding boot camp he did at the University of Texas at Austin. Brown looked into similar boot camps closer to home and a few months later, became a member of the first KU Coding Boot Camp.
New commitment, new accomplishment
With his previous experience, the first month of boot camp was pretty simple for Brown. But that changed when he started learning Node.js. It quickly became apparent that he would need to dedicate a lot more time and energy if he wanted to get the most out of this opportunity.
Brown gave it his all.
“It was a challenge,” Brown said. “But my unwavering interest really became the driving force to help me meet that challenge.”
As camp neared its halfway point, Brown got involved with the Code for Kansas City civic hack-a-thon — a local coding event geared toward developing digital platforms to benefit the community. There, he had the chance to work on a project, making it easier for the city to process claims on foreclosed or abandoned properties.
The chance to code and help his city really spoke to Brown. But he was nervous going in, unsure if he knew enough to be useful. Luckily, he got immediate reassurance.
“I talked with one gentleman who was the CTO at his company. And I realized that the skills I’d been learning at boot camp matched up perfectly with what [someone like him] practiced every day. It was a huge confidence boost,” Brown said.
He took that confidence into his final group project: a web application that matches the extra food from restaurants, grocery stores, catering companies, and similar companies with those in need — soup kitchens, food banks and homeless shelters.
Not only did Brown learn the ins and outs of application architecture, he also learned how to lead and inspire his team for the greater good.
“Boot camp helped me learn how to strategize and standardize processes so everyone is on board. [Plus I learned a] tremendous amount of hard skills,” he said.
Impacting change. Empowering the next generation of coders.
The claims processing initiative Brown worked on at the Code for Kansas City hack-a-thon went live at the end of March — after nearly six months of dedication and work.
Code for Kansas City is also helping Brown build relationships to bring his final boot camp project to life — with the goal to reduce food waste in the community.
Since finishing boot camp, Brown landed a job as a software developer for Oberd, where he develops applications that provide surgeons with outcomes-based data research to improve the level of care they’re able to provide.
Having found a way to refine his coding skills and serve his community, it would seem that Brown achieved his goal. But he wasn’t done just yet.
He also became a teaching assistant for KU Coding Boot Camp.
“I want to empower another wave of people who would like to learn to be developers,” Brown said. “My boot camp instructors and TAs had a massively positive impact on me — and this is a great way for me to do that for another group of students.”
Interested in learning to build applications that make an impact? Learn more about KU Coding Boot Camp.
About Trilogy Education
Trilogy Education is a workforce accelerator that empowers the world’s leading universities to prepare professionals for high-growth careers in the digital economy. From coding to data analytics, Trilogy’s skills-based training programs bridge regional hiring gaps in more than 35 markets across North America. Since the company’s launch in 2015, thousands of working adults have successfully completed Trilogy-powered programs, and 2,000+ companies — ranging from startups to the Fortune 500 — employ them.
This story was originally posted on Trilogy’s blog.