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Why I Love Being a Course Assistant for Software Design Studio

After writing my first loop in Java in 7th grade, I fell in love with coding. I fell in love with coding because it is usable art. Just like architecture, which is an art used by people daily and affects their everyday life, so is code. You can create something and people interact with, use, touch and work with. Whenever I learned something new, I would show my parents my code and walk them through my code, line by line, in an attempt to show them how amazing it is to code. I would show my friends my code, encouraging them to also pick up the same passion I had. Slowly, I found that explaining my code and coming up with efficient solutions was something that I was not only strong at, but enjoyed doing. Brainstorming ways I could distribute my knowledge, I found Blue Hair Technologies, which taught senior citizens how to use mobile devices to not only communicate with one another but also video call and chat with their families. After working for them for a few months, I realized my passion was to distribute my knowledge to anyone interested in technology. Back in my hometown, I taught hundreds of kids, teenagers, and adults the basics of coding.  I wanted to break the stigma that learning coding could only be done by a few select people. I believe that everyone should know at least the basics of how to code. I gave talks at public events and even lectures at universities all throughout high school. 

However, when it came time to go to college, I decided to attend the Univesity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and had to say goodbye to my hometown and all of my students that I helped get into the technology field. While acknowledging that it was time to leave was painful, it was uplifting knowing the mark I left on my students. I knew I had to do something similar in college. When choosing my courses, I wanted to take classes that would help me in industry. I saw Software Design Studio (CS 126) and read the description. It was a perfect class for me, as I would learn how to write test cases, documentation, and more efficient algorithms. 

I took this class in Fall 2020, and I loved every assignment. The structure of the course was weekly coding projects and code review sessions a few days after the submission date. In these code review sessions, a member from the course staff would review the code I submitted and recommend changes that I should make to make my code not only more efficient but also more readable by anyone. This type of feedback helped me understand what I needed to work on, and how I should be testing my code to cover edge cases.

After the semester ended, I wanted to join the course staff. This course would be the perfect way I could continue sharing my knowledge. I started working for CS 126 in Spring 2021, and it has been amazing. I love giving useful feedback back to students and see them implement that in the following week. At the end of the semester, students write much more efficient, well-tested, and well-documented code. This is an amazing skill to have in industry. 

While it was difficult to say goodbye to the chapter of my life where I could individually teach students the basics of coding, I am glad that I have the opportunity of influencing current coders. 

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