For most teenagers, a love of music means pop songs on repeat — and an interest in coding is limited to updates on social media accounts.
But for 17-year-old Northville High School student, Julia Huang, a passion for music and coding has shaped her life and is the reason for her placement as a finalist in the Chegg.org Global Student Prize.
The Global Student Prize is a sister award to Chegg’s $1 million Global Teacher Prize and awards $100,000 to an exceptional student. It was founded last year as part of a partnership with the Varkey Foundation. Huang is one of 50 finalists chosen from a pool of more than 7,000 applicants from around the world.
She was drawn to apply to the competition because of its emphasis on community and educational equity.
“Impacting other people in my community is something I’m so passionate about,” Huang says. “It’s so important to share your knowledge and to share your resources.”
Huang’s passions collided when she created Bytes and Pieces, a youth organization dedicated to topic workshops in coding and music, speaker webinars and contests like hackathons.
“I started piano lessons at 5 years old and I think it’s so fun. In middle school I got into coding,” she says. “When I got to high school, I had these two passions, and I asked myself ‘What am I doing with these skills?’ and I wanted to share them with other people.”
In its inaugural year, Bytes and Pieces has reached more than 377 students, put on more than 37 Hackathon projects and given away more than $2,500 in prizes.
“Through school I was teaching the piano club and coding club doing things like teaching web development and music theory, but the impact wasn’t enough,” Huang says. “I wanted to expand the impact–my goal is to spread knowledge around the world.”
“Before I started Bytes and Pieces I didn’t know a lot of people interested in those things,” she adds. “After I started it and our membership and board team grew, I found so many people who have the same passions that I have.”
“I’ve even met someone who loves coding websites and composing classical music!” she says. “It is so amazing how with just a laptop and internet access, people could meet so many others with similar passions and interests.”
Huang plans to continue growing her music and coding skills in college and later in her career. For now, she plans on majoring in computer science and minoring in music at university.
When Huang isn’t running Bytes and Pieces or planning her future, she loves running and reading. Her favorite book series is the Divergent series, because of the “connection between sci-fi and society and real and fiction.”
The winner of the Global Student Prize will be announced the fall of 2022.
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