Jamal O’garro has a sharp haircut. He’s hamming it up with the group, and he’s in his element. I’ve come in a little late and am a little frazzled because I had to go through a security check point because apparently, the UN is an international airport. As I make my way to a free seat, no one is annoyed or cares for that matter. It’s a pretty open forum and I immediately feel at home.
Code Crew is a group of individuals from diverse backgrounds all learning to code together. Jamal and Felicia O’garro founded Code Crew when they themselves decided to switch careers and learn to code. Felica tells me that they were hit hard by the recession of 2008 and they struggled for a while to make ends meet. They thought about going back to school to acquire their masters degrees but it was a pricey move and one with no guarantees. “Learning to Code was free” Felica mentions, and there were no barriers to entry. They learned to code together, studying from sun up to sun down at the library and watching tutorials on YouTube. Now they’ve both got jobs as engineers. They started Code Crew officially in 2013 though they were hosting meetings the year before. It was initially a means of getting together with other folks who wanted to learn how to code. They first met up at coffee shops, but pretty soon their Meetup Group grew and they needed a larger space. Now, they’ve been invited to speak at the UN for NYC Code Camp an open source conference held at the UN Headquarters here in NY. They’ve also been to the White House because of their commitment to making sure everyone has access to education around coding. They’ve made sure that all of their classes are affordable and in many cases even free so anyone can come and learn if they want to.
During the class at the UN, I was pretty lost, but I don’t have the keene sense of dread that I did in my computer science classes at University. It’s all good – no one is judging me. I have no assignments, and everyone who is there wants to be there. I can ask questions if I want and I don’t feel like anyone will judge me if my question is elementary. A fun, affordable, reputable coding class? I’ll definitely be back.