Contributing With Code: Purity Birir’s Developer Journey

Purity Birir will be attending this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration in Houston, Texas from September 26–28, 2018. Her journey into software development is one that began in apathy towards the status quo, and a burning desire to contribute to the world as best as she could.[1]

Not long before Purity became an Andela developer, she was studying for a college degree in Business and Information Technology in Kenya. She soon became disillusioned with the program and dropped out to search for better opportunities. “ I left to join an organization called Naicode which was funded by Stanford University. I was able to go through a 3-month intensive Bootcamp where I learned Java and Android,” she says. “I then proceeded to become the president of Naicode. During my time, there we launched a partnership with Safaricom WIT (Women In Technology) and were able to teach Java and Android. We also started an initiative to teach high school kids how to code, very similar to Andela’s teencode.”[2][3]

“I first learned about Andela through a Whatsapp group I was in. It seemed like such a cool opportunity but I honestly didn’t believe it at the time,” she says. After learning about Andela, Purity applied and was one of the 0.5% of developers accepted to the program.

Why Software Development?

Purity fell in love with computers in high school, where she took an elective Computer Science class. But her interest was truly piqued after she participated in a science contest, presenting a proposal to create GPS trackers to monitor street families in Kenya – and won. “The different projects people presented made me discover how exciting computing could be. I think that is the day I knew for a fact that my contribution to the world would be through computing,” she says.

The road to Grace Hopper

At Andela, Purity is currently working on an internal product team, building Societies – an open source collaboration and logging tool used by Andela Fellows across several locations. Her developer stack is PREN (Postgres React, Express, and Node). She also worked on the Andela Information System (AIS) project early on. AIS serves as the single source of truth for all Andela Fellows and Partners.[4]

When asked how she feels about being able to attend this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration, she says, “Before I joined Andela I was a girl with a dream and didn’t know how to go about achieving them. I have learned so many things from Andela, my confidence has increased, and so has my belief in my own capabilities. I possess a higher level view of technology now. I have been asked to speak at different tech events and even become the first community leader in Kenya. This is how I got to hear about the Grace Hopper Celebration, which is the largest meetup for women in Technology. I’m excited about being able to be there for it.”[5]

Throughout her time at Andela, Purity has received a number of opportunities to get involved in the broader Kenyan and global tech ecosystem. As the first community leader in Kenya, she organizes meetups, speaks at tech events, and mentors. It is this organization that introduced her to the Grace Hopper Celebration, which is the largest meetup for women in technology in the world.

At this year’s conference, Purity is most excited for the chance to meet women working at Facebook and Google and many other startups. One of the workshops she is excited to be participating in is Transitioning to Technical, Going From CS Dropout To Software Engineer by Emma Cramer.

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