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South Salt Lake Journal

Young coders who identify as female build websites, games and more with Sego Lily Hacks

Sep 11, 2023 12:56PM ● By Katherine Weinstein

For those not in the know, a “hackathon” has nothing to do with the criminal activity known as computer hacking. A hackathon is actually a social coding event that brings computer programmers and other interested people together to develop projects such as software, websites and games. 

Attending virtual hackathons during the pandemic inspired a young programmer, Jasmina Frederico of South Salt Lake, to form a new coding nonprofit in Utah. The organization, Sego Lily Hacks, offers opportunities for young people who identify as female to learn computer coding and build their own projects. This past summer, Sego Lily Hacks also did a service project in which they assembled hygiene kits for women in need.

Frederico spoke of the need for a club like Sego Lily Hacks. “Having a community of underrepresented genders in Utah is important,” she said. “It encourages equity.” 

Pranavi Gundu, co-director of operations for Sego Lily Hacks, explained, “We’ve seen people who identify as female sometimes struggle in the computer science industry. We wanted to create a community for them.” 

Members of Sego Lily Hacks range in age from middle schoolers to college students. 

Frederico’s interest in computers began when her dad, who worked in software development, taught her the basics of Python, a computer language. She also attended coding summer camps during high school. “It was a really good experience,” Frederico said. 

During the pandemic, when Frederico was a sophomore at West High School, she met other girls her age from Canada, Texas and Washington at a virtual hackathon. The girls teamed up to build a website that listed local COVID vaccination sites. 

After that, Frederico was inspired to create Sego Lily Hacks. “I wanted something based in Utah,” she said. “I had never seen hackathons in Utah that were open to teenagers.” 

The group’s first in-person hackathon was held at Artemis Health in Gateway in October 2022. “Coders can come in, attend workshops, make new friends and win prizes,” Frederico said. 

“Some people build websites, games or stop-motion animations,” Gundu added. Prizes range from AirPods to Amazon Echo Dots and skincare products. 

Frederico and Gundu are also members of Hack Club, an international club for teenage coders. Last July, they teamed up with the Girl Scouts of Utah for a hackathon which was held on the premises of BILL, a company in Draper. “We flew in four other girls from California and Texas,” Gundu said. “We hosted workshops on building websites and games.” 

Earlier in the summer, members of Sego Lily Hacks met at BILL to do a service project. “We asked ourselves, what can we do to help women in the community?” Gundu said. 

Inspired by The Period Project, the club members decided to assemble hygiene kits for women in need. Each kit included tampons, pads, soap sheets, lip balms and stickers. They intend to donate the 200 kits either to the Women’s Center in Salt Lake City or The Period Project in Utah.

Changes are underway for Sego Lily Hacks as Frederico heads to Pennsylvania this fall to attend Lafayette College. “I plan to double-major in computer science and law,” she said. 

Gundu, who lives in South Jordan, graduated from Hillcrest High School last May. She plans to attend the University of Utah to double-major in information systems and international studies. Gundu will continue to help manage Sego Lily Hacks along with member Aishwaryaa Udeshi who is based in Texas. 

“Right now we hoping to get more team members,” Gundu said. “We’re looking for leads, mentors— people who are passionate about computers to lead the group.” Sego Lily Hacks is also always seeking new members.

“Utah has become known as Silicon Slopes,” she added. “We want more girls to see that they can be a part of it.” 

To learn more about Sego Lily Hacks and find out about upcoming events, visit their Instagram @segolilyhacks. λ