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Meet our #CodeintheCommunity Volunteers – Melody Yun: “I treat the computer like a 5-year old kid”

May 25, 2021

#Community #Impact Code in the CommunityTech for GoodVolunteeringWomen in Tech

It takes a village to democratise digital literacy. Code in the Community – Singapore’s largest free coding programme for disadvantaged kids – is made possible not just through the support of venue sponsors, funders, and our team behind the scenes, but a community of volunteers from all walks of life who give their time and talent to teach kids from under-privileged backgrounds about the world of code.

Get to know some of ’em here – we hope their stories inspire you as much as they inspire us.

Hi Melody! Could you introduce yourself?

“I’m a full-time student at SUTD majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Artificial Intelligence and Cyber Security. In my free time I like to play guitar… and sleep.

I also really like to code, and I really like reaching out to others and educating them in terms of STEM knowledge.”

How did you get into coding?

“Initially I was really interested in healthcare, but at the same time I didn’t want to do nursing, or to interact directly with patients. I wanted to do something behind the scenes for patients – to build something that interacts with patients instead. So I came to SUTD wanting to study Engineering Product Development.

When I was a freshman, my friend introduced me to a NUS-MIT Healthcare Datathon, an event where you analyse data and use it to draw insights and findings. It was there that I jumped in and learned about Structured Query Language (SQL) over the course of a week. That was my first coding language. It was really tough – programming is really tough. It requires a lot of mental energy and emotions come into play during stressful periods.”

Sounds like it wasn’t an easy journey. What do you like about it?

“What I really, really like about coding is the experiences it brought me through.

Coding taught me to grow as a person. You learn qualities like teamwork, and patience. At first I was really impulsive and rash, but you learn to slowly think through and solve problems.

I treat the computer like a 5 year old kid – it’s like talking to a preschooler, and talking to a preschooler requires a lot of patience.”

Where does that passion for STEM and spreading knowledge come from?

“It started with a mentor whom I really admire. He goes out of his way to help the community in terms of technology, and would do lots of coding projects for free.

I was really surprised back then – he could’ve charged a lot of money given his experience. I asked why he did all this for free, and he said he just likes to interact with people and help the community. And that really inspired me.

One day while on LinkedIn I chanced on my friend’s sharing about her experience teaching Scratch at Code in the Community, and I thought finally – there’s somewhere I can teach coding. I thought it’d be interesting to use my teaching experience and coding knowledge and bring them together.”

What was your experience volunteering with Code in the Community like?

“I really enjoyed volunteering with Code in the Community – it was worth my Sundays.

For me it always comes back to this quote by Steve Jobs: ‘Everyone should learn how to programme a computer because it teaches you how to think.’

In the 21st century, if you’re just a memorising machine, computers will beat you at it; what makes humans stand out from computers is your ability to think. By teaching kids to code, you teach them how to think, you pique their curiosity, make them question why things are a certain way, and develop in them the mind of an investigator. Many times we forget that computers are really quite dumb and all they can do is follow instructions. Because of that when we learn how to programme it helps us build up our logic and solve problems, and problem-solving skills are really important.

When we teach kids to code it’s not about becoming the next Sundar Pichai or Steve Jobs, it’s about the ability to think.”

What do you want to do with your own coding superpowers?

“Right now I have my own startup based in the US. It’s called Safemeals – it’s a web app making food delivery safer and more convenient for parents and people with food allergies by leveraging machine learning to filter through food allergens, food safety and food ratings.

At the end of the day, my aim is to use the skills I have to create social impact and bless others in society. That’s what I feel is more appropriate.”


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