Coding was her calling – now her mission is to reveal the creative side of computer science

Pariss Chandler dreamed of bright lights, red carpets and the chance of being an actress. Fueled by creative impulse, her calling would ultimately have to be an artistic outlet – where she could be anyone and do anything. You wouldn’t think computer science would qualify as a valid venue for such pursuits, but that’s where Pariss might change your mind.

“I never pictured myself in this field, and yet here I am,” said Pariss, who now works as a full-time front-end web developer. “I’ve learned that computer science is creative, fun and rewarding. This is the misconception that I am looking to change in my local school system.”

During this year’s Computer Science Education Week, Pariss partnered with Microsoft and headed to her alma mater, Amigos Elementary School in Cambridge, to teach students basic programming skills and show them how they, too, can forge their own path in computer science.

Growing up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Chandler always knew she wanted to do great things and provide impact for those like her. Her ideals took her to Resilient Coders, a Boston-based nonprofit that teaches under-served, at-risk, and gifted young people to code. It helps individuals, just like her, open their eyes to an unexpectedly creative calling.

“Resilient Coders gave me this skill that is as close as I’ll ever get to having a magic power,” Pariss says. “I have the skills necessary to solve real world problems and bring my ideas to life through tech. Now more than ever, I feel that I’m really contributing to and making an impact in my community.”

It’s not art without utility, of course. Through her training at Resilient Coders, Paris learned skills valued by employers for today’s jobs and the jobs to come, including front-end web development, languages like HTML, CSS, Javascript, and jQuery, all vital tools in crafting unique websites. Having gained experience with real-life clients through the Resilient Coders apprenticeship program, Pariss interned in user experience and quality assurance at Hill Holiday. Today, she works as a full-time front-end web developer with Boston’s Follain, a health-conscious beauty supplier and one of the top merchandising companies in New England.

While working in Boston, Pariss quickly realized there was an entire talent pool just across the river. She wanted to return to her home in Cambridge to share new skills with neighbors and friends. She wanted students from her neighborhood to know that coding is something that everyone can do – and there were jobs waiting to be filled and waiting to tap new creative minds.

Inspired by her new career and experience with Resilient Coders, Pariss is now committed to giving back to her peers and peers-to-be.

“I fear that our youth will hear ‘Computer Science’ and automatically find it unappealing without really understanding how cool the tech industry is and the doors of opportunities it can open up,” Pariss says. “It’s this innovative world that gives you exposure to the most unbelievable pieces of technology – things you see in movies! And the best part of it all is not just having the privilege to experience the future firsthand, but having the knowledge and skills to be able to go home and build it yourself.”

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