1: Please tell me a little bit about yourself, (eg. hobbies, state, interests, grade, etc.)
Hi, I'm Jessica Ni. I'm a Chinese-American high schooler from South Carolina. At my school, I'm taking classes geared toward the Pre-health track. My hobbies include reading (favorite genre: sci-fi), drawing, painting, crocheting, playing golf, and birdwatching. (My favorite bird is the mourning dove; they are so cute). In my free time, I like to practice computer programming and volunteer virtually for the organizations I'm in. For my career, I'm interested in becoming either a general dentist or a medical illustrator in the future.
2: What inspired you to pursue your interests?
Ever since I was younger, I've had an interest in the Arts. In elementary school, I really enjoyed art class. What really sparked my passion was when I joined the art club later. It allowed me to get into more fun activities that were not done in normal art class and really just allowed me to have a deeper understanding of this subject. With my parent's support, I enrolled in summer art camps, where I became more knowledgeable about the different art mediums and techniques.
Later in when I started middle school, I started to be interested in the medical field. I was fascinated due to 2 main reasons: yearly dentists and doctors appointments and science classes. Among my friends, I found that I was the only one that was excited to go to the dentists' office. For some reason, I was just engrossed by the tools and machinery that they used to clean, repair, and diagnose patients. And then in the classes in school, I realized that classes like biology, chemistry, and physics were pretty exciting and easy to learn. So I took it upon myself to learn more, by taking Health Science classes at a technical school.
My interest in computer programming came later when I started high school. I have a class called "Exploring Computer Science" which was what really got me introduced to this new world of computers and coding. Technology has become a part of our everyday world, and we are becoming more and more reliant on it. It is so fun to learn what's behind all this technology! I found learning this subject to become more exciting as I found out how the intricate workings of the machinery worked. I also found out that coding is basically problem-solving. By learning and applying this problem solving to programming, it can fix bugs and errors in code, while also teaching you to use your thinking ability more efficiently.
3: What advice would you give to high/middle schoolers who want to pursue computer programming and web development?
It's a good idea to start learning early. I would recommend taking classes at your school that provide classes on this subject, but if your school does not have any classes or maybe you want to learn more on your own, there are a lot of computer programming learning sites available. Here are some websites that I've used and would highly recommend to start or even improve your skills with:
Khan Academy: (khanacademy.org/computing/computer-programming)
Other sites include, but are not limited to:
Scratch- this is block-based coding. Although it doesn’t offer any real languages, it allows for beginners to start out with understandable code(https://scratch.mit.edu/);
CyberStart- coding that works with cybersecurity, includes coding puzzles to solve (https://www.cyberstartamerica.org/);
Repl.it - a site that allows for users to code. It allows several different coding languages on its platform, plus tutorials and the ability to look at other people’s projects. GrassHopper- a coding platform made by Google, a little similar to Mimo and Codecademy (https://grasshopper.app/).
4. What advice would you give to kids who want to make a difference in their community?
Personally, I think Volunteering is a great way to make a difference in your community. Whether helping out or even donating to a hospital, food bank, youth group, nursing home, or animal shelter there are several local organizations that would benefit. Local opportunities can be found by searching online like https://www.volunteercrowd.com/. You can even contact organizations you’re interested in helping out with. While you are doing this, you can even benefit yourself with experience and perhaps find a new interest. Volunteering your time and skills to a local organization is a great way to give back to your community.
Of course, there are more ways to make difference: you yourself could even start an organization to help out your community, donate blood, organize a cleanup, and even become a mentor.
5. How do you think art has an impact, (good or bad) on a person’s life?
I strongly believe that art has a good impact on a person's life.
Art is used as a medium of expression, even communication to show viewer's the author's message. This could greatly help people who don’t usually find the right words to express themselves. Some are even anxious that society will misunderstand them. It allows them to have to let all the emotion out in whatever medium they are comfortable with.
For example, art therapy can be used to treat mental health issues like depression - which has healed thousands of people
Art can also be music, photography, dance, writing, and more. It is the things all around you. It can allow you to discover and feel the beauty of your surroundings.