Through all her four years at the all-girls school Ursuline Academy, Calista Adler ’22 has developed a  love for coding, engineering, and science all together, especially biotechnology, due to its combination of biology, chemistry, and computer science.

“I think that computer science is a really important part, moving forward in the future as more technology is being developed, especially in the biotech industry,” she said. 

Adler began coding when introduced to the subject in the computer science classes offered at her school. Since then, she started a coding club called Girls Who Code, became the co-captain and coding lead of the robotics team, and the administrator of the science club at her school. 

Next year she will be attending college at Dartmouth and wants to study biomedical engineering.

What inspired you to start the Girls Who Code club at your school?

I loved being immersed in the collaborative, problem-solving atmosphere of AP Computer Science Principles. I wanted to channel that atmosphere into a club to allow all grades to have the opportunity to participate in coding, and I realized that Ursuline didn’t have a coding club. I also wanted to help my classmates find their voice in a supportive community and encourage them to be unafraid of defying gender stereotypes. However, my biggest inspiration was my love of coding itself because it challenged me to approach problems from different perspectives and appreciate the intricacies of the tech world.

Is there a project you and your club are working on right now?

Right now we are working on a Women’s History Month app. We are presenting ten different women, and then we are going to create a little card flipping algorithm as a game for users throughout the whole school community to participate in and just have fun playing the game and learning more about women in STEM. I think it’s a really engaging way to get the school community interested in learning about women in STEM, especially when it’s presented in the format of a game.

What does being a co-captain and coding lead on Ursuline’s robotics team entail?

I was the co-captain, there were 4 of us, and then I was also the coding lead. This meant that A, I had to work with the programming section of our team, and somewhat teach them everything that I knew from past years. But then I also had to work with other parts of the robotics team, as well as collaborating with the other co-captains, making those executive decisions. I think a big part of being coding lead is not seeing only within the coding sphere of the team, because you need to collaborate with the building section so that there is no miscommunication there, because then the robot would not be executed well. And also running general robotics team administrative things, like sending announcements for meetings and planning the schedules. 

As a coding lead, do you have to teach any of the other members of the team how to code?

A lot of the coding this year was not only teaching students, but learning it ourselves because we weren’t really left with much when the captains left. We went into this not knowing a whole lot about the platform that we would have to use for robotics itself, despite the fact that we had experience with coding, just not this specific type. A lot of it was learning on our own, reading up on manuals and scouring the internet for pretty much anything out there. Eventually once we understood it, we focused on teaching the younger students, and right now we are in the process of making a little coding manual to leave for next year’s students. 

Adler building Toni, Robots in Plaid’s robot for this year’s competition – Freight Frenzy. Photo by Alexis Lee.

How do you feel being a role model for so many young women at Ursuline?

I wouldn’t really consider myself a role model, per say. With all of my clubs, I feel like my goal is to increase participation at Ursuline, because historically we haven’t really been known for our STEM. I guess I don’t really realize these things. All of my activities, for the most part, I just do for fun, and so I guess that I never really consider the impact that I’m having on other students as a role model.