Walsh Hosts 350+ Middle School Girls for Annual Learn to Code Event

Walsh was host to more than 350 middle school girls from Summit and Stark County, representing nine different school districts for the second “Girls who Code” event on December 17. The event was coordinated with assistance from Walsh faculty members including Drs. Melisa Barden, Jacque Mumford, Jim Jerkofsky, Mike Sarver and Mike Dunphy.

Girls Who Code is an annual collaborative event hosted in Stark County, where middle school girls are given the opportunity to learn about computer science alongside professionals and peers from other schools.  The event coincides with the national Computer Science Week each December.

The keynote for the event was delivered by Lindsay Dunphy, a professional musician and theater director who performs in New York City and South Korea. Lindsay's interactive talk focused on "Musical Theater in a Digital World" highlighting the pervasive use of coding across virtually all disciplines in the modern world.

“The idea was to create an exciting, volunteer-based day in which middle school girls could learn from teachers, faculty, business partners and each other,” said Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Michael Dunphy, Ph.D. “The program focused on elements of coding and technology relevant to today such as drones, robotics and basics of computer operations.”


With more than 80 industry professionals present as volunteers, the event drew students from Akron-NIHF, Alliance Middle School, Canton City Lehman Middle School, Canton City Early College Academy, Canton City STEAM, Canton’s Accelerating Innovative Minds Academy, Dalton Middle School, Perry Local Edison Middle School and Plain Local School District.

“Historically, females were the beginning coders. We like to link our efforts back to those early pioneers,” said Vanessa Board, event organizer and educator from the Plain Local School District. “By showcasing the many areas in this field, we are inspiring young females to branch out into other aspects of engineering.”

Vanessa Board and Canton City Schools educator Amanda Gillespie created the first Girls Who Code event in 2015. Two years ago, the event moved to Walsh University.

“Traditionally, girls are under-represented in the STEM Field, especially in the computer science fields. We know through research, that the best time of their life to peak their interest in STEM is in middle school,” said event organizer and Canton City School STEAM Academy teacher Amanda Gillespie. “The industry needs girls in computer science so we are working hard to expose them to as much computer technology as we can at this critical age. This is our fifth year, and I think Walsh is now our home.”