Mentor Monday: Meet Claire

Claire is a software engineer at nThrive Monday – Friday and an ideaSpark mentor on Saturdays. Claire lends her programming experience to 5th and 6th grade students each week at the Frisco Athletic Center, who are now learning mobile app development. 

Claire is also an active Bold Idea volunteer, supporting fundraising activities, program design and even volunteer game nights.

Her passion for bringing computer science to younger students has made her a shining asset to the Bold Idea team!

How did you become interested in tech and programming?
My father is a computational chemist who writes software for the pharmaceutical industry. For as long as I can remember, he's given me tips and tricks for programming and anything computer-related. During the summer between 8th and 9th grade, his boss needed a large document transcribed using LaTeX. My dad used this opportunity to teach me my first bit of programming, and I spent that summer falling in love with code. 

What did you study in college?
I majored in Computer Information Systems, specialized in programming, and minored in Business Administration. While code is my true passion, I hope to one day bridge the gap between the technical side and the business side of projects and be the person who can speak both languages.

What are you working on now?
I'm currently a software engineer at nThrive working on healthcare software solutions. My specific product, XClaim, helps "clean" claims in order to improve the acceptance rate by payers, ultimately decreasing the amount the patient has to pay. 

What have you gained from being a mentor? What was your most memorable moment while mentoring?
I've certainly gained a respect for the kids while mentoring. They are so eager to learn and passionate about programming! If I had been this active that young, I would be much farther along now. I'm so inspired by them! My most memorable moment occurred after someone in my session had pushed back a lot about the necessity of functions. He maintained that it is actually easier to copy and paste the code over and over. Finally, a week later, he had a moment where he REALLY needed a function. Begrudgingly, he added one per our advice, and dropped the code in there. Later, while demoing the code for his classmates, I heard him say, "I can't imagine if I had to write that code in four places!! Look how big that function is!!" 

Is there anything that you wish you could tell your younger self about coding?
I wish I could tell myself to stick with it and pursue it on my own. Outside of my family, I had no resources for learning code, and when I hit high school, I was consumed by the idea of not becoming a dreaded nerd like my father. Turns out being a nerd is pretty cool, and it pays the bills!

Is there anything about our mission that really connects with you?
The thing that resonates the most with me is offering computer science education in areas that just don't. It's weird to me to think if it weren't for my father, I would have had no exposure to code at all, probably in my life. I would have majored in something else, gotten a different job, and never even known about this industry. Now that I *am* a developer, I can't imagine not being one. I want to share computer science with the world and let everyone know that anyone can code - all it takes is willingness to learn!