Meet Cohort 5 of Careers in Code!

Hack Upstate
11 min readMay 16, 2023

This spring we started our 5th cohort of Careers in Code! We’re so excited to introduce and welcome the students of cohort 5 to our community.

Below are some of the amazing stories of our motivated, passionate students! We can’t wait to see where the bootcamp takes them.

Asma Abdulkadir

My name is Asma! I was born in Kenya but grew up in Upstate, NY. I recently earned my Bachelor’s degree in Public Communications and briefly worked as an Amazon Area Manager before discovering Hack Upstate’s program. I gained some exposure to coding while at Amazon and wanted to learn more about the world of Software Development. When opportunity knocks at your door, you take a leap of faith. I quickly pivoted into this new role as part of the program’s fifth cohort — and I’m glad I did! Granted, there’s still lots to learn, but I’m enjoying the process thus far. My goal is to land a rewarding career in tech after completion of this program and to give back to the Syracuse community. I am looking forward to the future!

Shannon Allen

Hi, my name is Shannon Allen. I heard about Careers in Code from a friend and decided to jump in. My first and only experience with coding was MySpace and it’s been a while. I love learning new things and look forward to expanding my knowledge in the tech world. I am here because I am looking for better jobs and growth opportunities and I know this will put me on that path. The program has been challenging so far, but I know that with the support we have available I will be successful. After graduation I would like to work for a company as a front-end developer and eventually have my own business building websites.

Palash Bharti

Over the last eleven years, I have worked in Sales, Customer Service and Administration and recently pivoted my career to Digital Marketing. Working with HTML, CSS and Google Analytics got me further interested in Web Development and Data Analytics.

On the financial front, the loss of my job during Covid created a vacuum, coupled with two brain surgeries I had for a chronic neurological illness, plus the career pivot, resulted in a big pay cut. It was about time I pushed myself to learn new skills. That’s when CiC came to my rescue and offered this well-rounded program to dip my toes in and learn the ropes of more web development concepts.

I have been tremendously enjoying coding since the beginning of this program. My ultimate goal is to build a business that provides proficient and affordable web app, design and development services to the region. Hope I’m not getting ahead of myself.

Outside of coding, my favorite therapeutic pastimes include cooking, working out and meditation. The most recent novel I read is “Where The Crawdads Sing”.

Danielle Carman

Hi, I’m Dani and I’m a current Careers in Code student. I have always been interested in how video games were made and the ideas behind modding them. Cyber security has also sparked some interest and can’t wait to learn more about it.

Genevieve Douglas

I’ve been a mother for 19 years and worked in the restaurant industry for 22 years. I am a “figure it out” kind of girl. I do a lot of my own home maintenance and can fidget with just about anything until I make it work. I once used a staple to fix a pair of glasses, hopefully that can give you some kind of idea of my problem solving skills. I’m trying to build skills to try and keep up, or at least blend into a world that is becoming completely dependent on technology. Hopefully this boot camp will give me the skills needed to do that.

Amberlyn Edmunds

I am a stay at home mom of three young girls and am preparing to go back to work now that they are getting into school. I made the choice to stay home during the pandemic, as my third child was born shortly after lockdown, and in order to keep them out of daycare. I also want to show my girls that no matter what dreams they may have, they are capable of achieving anything they are willing to work hard for! I have a degree in Studio Art and Anthropology. So far, I am drawn to Front End Development and Design probably because of my art background, but I am also very excited to learn more about what work goes into the backend of development! As we go forward through bootcamp, I keep discovering new career paths that I didn’t know existed which makes me so excited about my future after bootcamp! Each small victory while coding feeds something within me until I finish the project. I am very very thankful for the opportunity to be in the Careers in Code!

Taylor Kingston

Hello! My name is Taylor Kingston. I have an art background as well as an interest in many things considered “nerdy”, which I wear as a badge of pride. I have had an interest in learning coding and programming and I’m excited to learn and see what I’d like to get into. I’m mostly looking into either Cybersecurity or something along the lines of game development or robotics, as I enjoy puzzles (which I hear is a major component of CS), and have a love of games and sci-fi.

Monté Lawhorn Jr.

My name is Monté, but you can call me Mo. I’m currently a Technical Support Engineer for a Healthcare IT company. I was a former employee for Apple and worked primarily in the Genius Bar for almost 4 years. I’m aspiring to further my knowledge in order to become a software developer. I would like to use my new skills to assist creators with making and distributing art. As well as help children have creative outlets and a useful skill set that’s transferable to a working environment. I myself am a graphic artist and musician so I understand the need for spaces to create and learn.

Kenyang Lual Mirag

My name is Kenyang but many people that know me call me Kenny. I am from Khartoum, Sudan, but I spent most of my life growing up in Syracuse, NY. I graduated from SU with my undergrad in Information Systems with a concentration in Network Security. I’m going back for my master’s this fall in Applied Data Analytics. I work part-time at Apple as a Specialist and also part-time as a pharmacist technician. Things that I’m most passionate about outside of work are playing basketball, hanging out with friends, learning new things, and going on adventures. I’m taking this coding bootcamp because I feel like it will be a very beneficial experience and will help me land an entry level work-from-home job, specifically in full stack development. It’s early in the program, yet I’m so excited that I’m learning so much already.

SaQuota Reaves

Hi! My name is SaQuota Reaves. I am currently a special education teacher who aspires to be a full stack developer. I own my own multi-purpose company called Divine Healing, LLC where I specialize in publishing and working with those who have experienced grief. I am interested in seeing how I can mesh together all of the things I love (books, grief work and education). Upon graduation I plan to do freelance and work part-time in the field of coding. I am interested in learning more about HTML, CSS and JavaScript. I am also interested in teaching my students how to code and make cool websites.

Jaynia Trice

My name is Jaynia Trice. I’m a mother of three. I have always wanted to work with computers in some way. I started to pursue coding myself some time ago, but it wasn’t a success. So I am thankful for being able to have this opportunity with Careers in Code Cohort 5 to finish pursuing something I have always been passionate about! Im looking forward to this wonderful journey and seeing what all I have been missing in the CODE WORLD!

Natasha West

“Hello World”! I am Natasha, a New Jersey native, living and thriving in Central New York. I am a “newbie” in the tech field, still learning all the full-stack fundamentals and skills. However, I really enjoy front-end development and styling with CSS. I have already completed a few projects. I am a mother, a grandmother, a published author and a mental health advocate. I enjoy spending time outdoors, spending time with my family and learning new things. I have over 20 years of experience in the mental health field, primarily working with children. I would like to retire from direct-care in the next few years, and move towards a more technologically based career field. I am also looking forward to the freedom of working remotely, so I can travel more with my family. I never want to stop learning!

Corwin Williams Jr.

Born and raised in North Carolina, I moved to Syracuse in 2015. I played soccer growing up and eventually ended up playing lacrosse by high school. I am extremely fond of learning about new things and teaching new things. I would say I’m a people person while somehow being introverted. I studied Business Finance at OCC and then transitioned to Syracuse University for Kinesiology and Psychology. I just look forward to all the new opportunities to learn about coding and hopefully can make the most out of it. I have a new clothing brand coming soon, so these skills will definitely help in my website development!

Alize Claudio

I am a young woman who aspires to become very successful in tech. Before now I was just living my life, not really sure of what I wanted to pursue, career wise, but knowing what my skills and weaknesses were. I have a young son and a lot of my focus was him for the early years of his life. Now I’m ready to get back out there and do something that I love. Some of my goals for the program are to really hone in on skills that I can use to break into the software development field. I also want to show myself that I am capable. After finishing the program I hope to utilize all the resources made available, and hopefully move into a more entrepreneurial space. Before long I hope to begin developing my own projects that others will find resourceful or entertaining. Something extra I’d like everyone to remember is “ Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right”. With that being said, never give up!

Gagandeep Singh

Hi, my name is Gagandeep Singh and I’m passionate about programming and coding. Seeing the code you have typed in action makes me really happy. I’m a self-taught developer, and over the past few years I have been learning how to code and make websites while learning different programming languages and frameworks. When I came across an ad for Hack Upstate’s Careers in Code, I knew I needed to be part of this so I can take my future the right way and continue to gain knowledge to be a successful developer. #NeverStopLearning

Rain Jones

Rain has held many different titles through out her career, such as Administrative Assistant, Medical Assistant, RHIT, Phlebotomist and EKG Tech are some to name few. However, none have felt more rewarding than being a part of Cohort 5 of Careers in Code and working towards completing the coursework to be able to pass the knowledge on to her community.

Lashea Jones

I am Lashea Jones, but I prefer to be called by Shea. I’m just another mind learning new information and experiences. My time or journey before this program has been somewhat ’erratic’ from different areas of my life, but as the famous quote says “One day at a time.”
My goals in this program are to take in as much knowledge as I can and utilize it to change my life, mainly for my family — and possibly make a career out of what I learn. I don’t really have any aspirations as I am not the kind of person to make plans or have ‘dreams’, but if I had one goal or endgame after this program, it’s to create a long lasting career from the comfort of my home or indoors in general. I wish everyone the best.

Tara Rowser

My name is Tara Rowser! I graduated from Lemoyne College with a bachelor’s degree in biology. Over the last 9 years my career has been in order/account management. I noticed over the years, opportunities for improvements to be made to the web applications I used daily that would make the job easier and more efficient. I have been looking to merge into the tech field for a while now, but wasn’t sure where to begin. I am new to tech and programming, but being provided with the opportunity to be apart of this cohort has me more excited than ever before to continue on this journey. I look forward to seeing where the knowledge I gain during this program leads me.

Brandilyn Tayler

Hello! I’m Brandilyn Tayler, but usually go by Brandi. Despite being born in Keflavík, Iceland; I grew up primarily in central New York.

While I haven’t had an extensive background in computer science, I take special inspiration from both my paternal and maternal grandmothers. They both worked in STEM fields, at companies like G.E and Lockheed Martin, back when it was still very rare for women to do so, and both being in supervisory positions at that. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to take part in this program, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me! In my free time, I’m usually building Lego sets, listening to music, dyeing my hair yet another fun new color, or playing with my kitten Loki, who loves nothing more than to sit directly where I need him not to, but it’s okay, he’s still my favorite anyway.