Graduation ceremony held for San Jose immersion program Girls Who Code

It was graduation night Thursday for a group of teenage girls who participated in a program that teaches them how to code as a way to introduce them to the possibility of a career in the tech industry, which critics say is still largely dominated by men.

The students tell KTVU the seven-week immersion program is preparing them for life.

The girls, San Jose high school juniors and seniors, showed off their final project at Adobe headquarters.

It's a partnership between the tech company and the nonprofit Girls Who Code.

"I'm just 17-years-old, so that doesn't make me an expert in life," said one student speaker.

While the teens are not experts, they are students learning to use computer science to help solve life's challenges.

They showed off apps they've developed.

The girls say they've learned coding, but more importantly, they've learned about themselves.

"Don't be afraid to know more about a field you're interested in. Go where your passion leads," said Lisa Wang, a 17-year-old student.

And to not fear rejection while exploring their options.

Nadia Dedgeba helped developed an app called Find My Elderly to assist older folks in getting help quickly in an emergency. She says this program has inspired her.

"Having guest speakers that are all females, having a mentor who's also female, meeting different people like this showed me it's possible to make a career out of it," said Nadia.

The San Jose native tells KTVU her family came from Ethiopia. Her relatives work as Uber drivers and in-home caregivers.

She hopes to be the first in her family to go to college and have a career in tech.

"It gives me something to work towards. They're doing all this hard work for me," said Nadia.

The girls were rewarded with a surprise gift. Each was given a laptop.

Their teacher, an Adobe software engineer, says she wanted the girls to learn that computer science can can be creative and practical.

"The great thing about computer science is that it solves problems," said Quynh Nguyen, the program instructor with Adobe.

On this last day of the program, each girl received a certificate of completion.

The girls say this program has changed the way they'll approach their future.

They've learned that failure and persistence are steps to success.