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Accomplished Hirschi Student Starts a Teen Coding Club

Accomplished Hirschi Student Starts a Teen Coding Club

All are invited to club’s launch Sept. 27 at MSU



Sonya Ganeshram, left, answers a question from a fellow student during a Kirby Middle School after-school coding class. She will start a new class Sept. 27 that will meet at Midwestern State University.




Local schools don’t teach computer coding, so Hirschi High School freshman Sonya Ganeshram has decided to do it for them.


Starting Sept. 27, she will turn her passion for computer coding into a weekly club where she will teach fellow Region 9 students the basics of computer coding that so fascinate her.


She calls the club “Tech for Teens.” It will begin on the Midwestern State University campus in Bolin Hall, room 120, at 6 p.m. All Region 9 students in grades 4 through 8 are eligible to join. The club is free of charge.


Sonya is launching the club as part of a new non-profit organization she started with the help of MSU Computer Science Department’s Dr. Tina Johnson. Her group already has a board of directors that includes her former teacher, retired Kirby Middle School science teacher Lynn Seman.


Sonya’s mother, Deepika Ganeshram, is the group’s secretary and a professional computer coder herself. She introduced her daughter to the skill of coding years ago.


Ultimate in creativity

Sonya believes that computer coding is the ultimate in creativity because it allows her to complete all sorts of fun tasks.


For several years she has participated in a Dallas-based club called, “Girls Who Code.”


“It’s fun, and it’s a creative way to express yourself. You don’t have to be talented with a paintbrush to be artistic,” she has said.


First-place trophy

If you’re wondering if a ninth-grader knows enough coding to teach your child, you need only check out her impressive coding accomplishments.


By the time Sonya was a Kirby eighth grader, she collected a first place trophy at the South Plains Regional Science and Engineering Fair at Texas Tech University in Lubbock . She had created a coding project called the Prescription Overdose Protection Box.


While there, she won the Broadcom Masters Award, which propelled her to national competition. She also won the prestigious Women in Science Award, which named her the top female contestant at the 600-project fair.


She later took her invention to state competition later in the spring in San Antonio.



Over the 2016 summer, Sonya became a national winner in the 2015-2016 eCYBERMISSION Competition. She was part of an eighth-grade team that entered her safety device for the hearing impaired.


Hers was one of only four teams – the best of 7,000 entrants -- that won national acclaim in the eCYBERMISSION Competition June 24, 2016. Their safety device for the hearing impaired notifies a user of dangers, converting emergency information into a text alert and a wearable vibrating device.


“We are so proud of her!” wrote Lynn Seman then in an email. She has sponsored several of Sonya’s projects over the years. “Quite an amazing girl! I am just too excited for her.”


Kirby teacher Gwenna Gallenberger also basked in the excitement of Sonya’s win. “They are national champions!” she said in an excited email.


Sonya also placed second in the Cover Girl “Girls Can” Initiative. She used her coding skills to write an app to help girls find makeup that suits their skin tones and medical needs, like eczema.


This is her IB project

Now a Hirschi High School student, Sonya decided she would develop coding clubs to satisfy project requirements for the school’s International Baccalaureate program. She wants her “Tech for Teens” club to be a stepping stone to her career as a computer programmer.


“She likes to code, and she likes teaching,” said her mother, Deepika Ganeshram.


Women who code “are very rare,” she said. Mrs. Ganeshram is speaking from her own experience; she was often the only woman on her computer coding projects.


A computer programmer recognizes patterns and is adept in math, she said.


For more information

For more information on the “Tech for Teens” club, check out the Tech for Teens website at or email Sonya at


Kirby coding club continues, too

Sonya’s after-school coding club at Kirby Middle School, which began last year, will continue for Kirby students.