EC Staff. Los Angeles
Aura Xec, 18, will be one of the many young participants at the Hackathon being held in South Gate in mid-January. It’ll be a special day for this young Latina as getting to where she is today has not been an easy journey.
Born in a rural village in Guatemala, Xec started school in the United States at the age of 10 and had to quickly learn English in order to communicate effectively with her teacher and classmates. Her parents had been in the States for three years while she lived in Guatemala with abusive relatives.
“In Guate, we didn’t have anything,” Xec said.
To better her chances of a bright future and help her connect with a technology-based country, she spent countless hours watching English videos on Youtube.
“Here technology is everywhere. I can practice my writing and look up a word I don’t know. It’s so much easier.”
Xec will be graduating from Youthbuild Charter School in Los Angeles in the Spring, a semester early. Julia Mijango, her tech teacher, selected a couple students including Xec to participate in a five-week coding class. During that time, Xec discovered her interest in web development. This year, her goal is to use her coding skills to help the Latino community by attending her first hackathon, WeHack/Southeast Cities.
Hackathon, a brilliant way to put latinos and tech jobs together.
What is exactly a Hackathon? I know, it might sound like our computer is in danger of being sabotaged by a bunch of young geeks in search of easy money or just fame and glory, but, in reality, it’s quite the opposite. It’s a mayor convention of talent trying to probe their abilities, networking and competing for more than 5,000 dollars in prizes. This one at least, will be exactly that.
It will be the first one of its class, the first in California organized in a working-class, latino community like East LA, at the College South Gate Campus, with more than 200 participants that have already sign in to compete in a three day event.
The final goal of the Wehack: Southeast Cities Civic Hackathon organized the Southern California Latino Policy Center and Sabio LA is to create more tech jobs and careers for the young latino communities across California.
“This event is designed to encourage young people, particularly Latinos and African Americans, to pursue careers in tech,” says Victor Abalos, Executive Director of the Southern California Latino Policy Center. “We also want to educate local policymakers on the importance of technology, not only as a workforce solution but also as a strategy for local economic development.”
“There is a huge Latino tech jobs gap right now,” says Liliana Monge, co-founder of Sabio, along with her husband Gregorio Rojas. “As Latinos we are huge users and consumers of tech but our numbers in the tech workforce and particularly in tech company leadership are miniscule.”
‘Wehack’ will be an event packed with coders and web developers from the region focused on solving the most common problems of Southern California such as longday work conmutes, affordable child care, healthy eating choices, and parking, to name a few.
Xec’s mission at the Hackathon is to motivate other young Latinas and make a positive impact in her community through technology. She wants her story to inspire others, especially those who share a similar trajectory. Even though she suffered mental and physical abuse in the past, her possibilities of a bright future are endless.
“We cannot do anything about the past,” Xec said. “It’s up to us to change how we want to live. We can do anything if we try our best.”
WeHack: Southeast Cities starts 5:00 p.m. Friday, January with a short launch event and continues through the weekend with nightly breaks from midnight until 7:00 a.m. at 2340 Firestone Blvd, South Gate, CA, 90280. Check it out, young latino boys and girls with an technological aspiration.