Hack the Hood is turning five this year, and to celebrate this milestone we are highlighting the young people who have brought their skills and passions to our program. We'll be profiling a different young leader each month, starting with Nailah! We had a conversation with Nailah last week and found out more about her ambitions.
1. What made you decide to join Hack the Hood (HtH)? When did you start with HtH?
My cousin, Jalina, heard about Hack the Hood from her workplace and she really encouraged me to apply because it would give me something to do and in the process I’d learn about coding, while earning some cash. Initially it was something to do to pass time, but then I unexpectedly fell in love with coding.
When I heard I got into the Summer 2017 Bootcamp with RC [HtH’s Lead Instructor], I was super pumped! I felt empowered to learn about coding and how tech companies work.
Being a part of Bootcamp was like being a part of a community - we were all bonding, joking, and having fun together. Through the Bootcamp business trip, I got a really special inside look at Pandora - I was surprised to see how happy and relaxed people were there. I loved that so many Pandora staff had the time to stop by and say hi - it showed me that they were treated like humans, not machines.
When Bootcamp came to an end, I didn’t want to leave!
2. What did you learn, that was unexpected? Was there anything that surprised you about the program?
I designed my own website: www.nailahneely.tech and another for a small business owner - whose website isn’t live yet, because they’re waiting for all their products to come in, but it’s a website that provides environmentally friendly feminine products and feminine health education to black women.
I was pleasantly surprised by how warm and caring the instructors were. Their warmth and care really showed up when my instructors, RC, Somsak, and Daniel, got emotional at Bootcamp graduation, making HtH even more special to me.
3. What are your favorite foods?
I don’t really have a favorite food, but I definitely enjoy trying foods that are new to me. Recently I ate at Curry Up Now on Telegraph - I ordered the Naughty Naan and it was so delicious, I can’t wait to go there again!
4. What do you do for fun?
When I have some free time, I’m spending quality time with my family - with my little brothers, sister, and Mom, who I love dearly. When we’re together we have game night where we play Sorry, Uno, and The Game of 49…’Sorry’ is my favorite because I win! If we choose to mix it up a little, we’ll host movie night. My favorite movie to watch is The Great Debaters.
5. What’s your favorite TV show?
Favorite TV Show hands down is Stranger Things - first season was amazing, second season was a bit predictable, but still really good...I can’t wait for them to come back for Season 3...which I hope there will be, otherwise, I might need to send a letter to Netflix!
6. What are three places you enjoy visiting in Oakland?
Jack London Square, especially Regal Cinema; Lake Merritt - I love walking around there; and my Mom’s house!
7. Who are your top three music artists?
Cardi B, Bruno Mars, and Kem (jazz musician). Cardi B and Bruno Mars’ Finesse is my jam right now!
8. Who do you follow on instagram?
My favorite people to follow are: @conscious_empowerment, @renny, and @willsmith!
9. Where’d you grow up? What do you like about Oakland?
I’m East Oakland strong and proud! I feel Oakland is one of the best cities because everyone likes to come to Oakland now...we’re famous. I like that Oakland has a strong sense of community and history. When I think of Oakland, I think of my family and the warm fuzzy feeling that comes with thinking of family. I love that Oakland is where the Black Panthers started and that so many other famous people have their roots in Oakland, like Marshawn Lynch, Too Short, Mac Dre, and Keysha Cole. Most importantly I love that when I bump into other people who are from Oakland, there’s this strong sense of pride.
10. What’s something you’d like to see changed in Oakland? What do you want your contribution to that change to be?
I want to see rent be more affordable in Oakland. I want landlords to be more aware of the struggle of the people and how many jobs people work to be able to afford Oakland. I want to see homeless people be off streets and want the City to be helping the homeless people more. Unfortunately, what I see happening is the City of Oakland is kicking people out who’ve been here for years (if not generations) and making space for all the people who can afford to live elsewhere, but are choosing Oakland because it’s close to their jobs. My contribution to these challenges is VOTING and passing out food to homeless people.
11. What do you appreciate about today’s’ technology?
I really appreciate having access to wifi because it gives me access to information immediately. Even though I’m not a big fan of smartphones, I have one, because it’s really convenient when I’m out and about. Basically information at my fingertips.
I love PCs because they’re not complicated to use like Macs are - having a laptop connects me to the world. Plus having a laptop allows me to work on school papers from home rather than going to the library to write my papers.
12. What type of technology do you wish you had, but hasn’t been invented yet?
Even though these are being built, I’m very fascinated by self-driving cars because of how convenient they are and how they’ll help people who don’t have a driver’s license.
13. What would be your dream job? What do you want to be when you grow up?
Dream job: working at a tech company and continuing to learn about coding. At this tech company, my ideal position would be a Full Stack Engineer or Back-end Engineer.
I know I still have a lot to learn, so while I work towards my dream job, I’m going to attend Code Berkeley, watch coding videos on YouTube, and utilize Khan Academy and Treehouse.
Next year I want to apply for General Assembly’s Fellowship program.
Photography by: Christine Cueto
Hack the Hood Blog
News items and musings on tech inclusion, youth development, buying local and more.