Senior Accessibility Engineer, Bay Area

Donielle Berg 400x311

I would have never guessed that one of the most welcoming, positive, and invigorating places is inside of San Quentin Prison. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect on my first visit but when I was greeted with genuine warmth and enthusiastic questions about javascript function scope, I instantly forgot I was in prison. These students are some of the most hard-working, intelligent, kind, and talented individuals I’ve ever met. One student built a complex data visualization website. Another created a single player computer game. And a small group built their own search engine since they don’t have access to Google, and it’s now being used by TLM classrooms across multiple prisons. Even when brand new students have asked me for a book recommendation or framework to check out, and when I returned a week later they’ve thoroughly covered the material and are ready to go with a new list of well thought-out, in-depth questions.

It’s rare to meet so many passionate learners, and their drive is humbling and contagious to be around. In the four years I’ve mentored with TLM, many students have returned home. They’re now working as programmers, product managers, documentary film makers, mentoring other coding programs, and they all continue to amaze and inspire me to lead a more purposeful life.