Middle schooler, Ife Joseph, shines in front of the U.N.
Ife Joseph has accomplished many feats before the age of 14. She created an app when she was a fifth grader at Hillside Elementary called “Mental Health for Social Justice,” a digital journal for young kids dealing with racism.
She’s been a part of Black Girls Code, a nonprofit organization that aims to support Black girls who show an interest in the field of technology.
She was nominated for Time magazine’s “Kid of the Year” award.
Now, Ife can add public speaker to her resume, as she spoke at the United Nations on March 17 about the importance of Black Girls Code.
Ife, a student at Glenfield Middle School, was one of three girls chosen by Black Girls Code to attend the “Women Leaders in Media: Making Innovative Technology Work for Women and Girls” conference at the United Nations in New York.
She wasn’t informed until she arrived that she and the other girls would be speaking at the conference. Despite the nervousness that she felt, the middle schooler didn’t let that deter her from getting her message across.
“I was really focused on sharing my experience with Black Girls Code and expressing how important organizations like Black Girls Code are,” she said.
For Ife, the organization showed her she can do anything. When she grows up, she said, she wants to be
either an astronaut or a tech entrepreneur.
“This really opened up my mind about the possibilities of what I can do for the future,” she said.
Ife’s mother, Tinu Joseph, is proud and a little surprised about her daughter’s progress in coding and confidence since joining Black Girls Code.
“There was a time when she didn't feel seen, but every time that she goes to Black Girls Code, they really see her,” Joseph said. Ife doesn’t see the nonprofit as simply an extracurricular activity but also as her family.
“I wouldn’t be who I am without this program,” Ife told the U.N. crowd filled with women prominent in the media and tech industry.
Though she’s only 13, she already has the outline for her budding career planned out; she wants to follow in the footsteps of her role model, Mae C. Jemison, the first Black woman to go into space. In addition to being an astronaut, Ife wants to work in the medical field like Jemison and minor in computer science.
“There's a place for me in these occupations,” she said. “There's a place for me everywhere.”
One of her short-term goals is to continue working on her app, “Mental Health for Social Justice,” and on her more recent one, called “Portal Heroes.” Ife calls that app a “gamification of Black history.”
She added: “Today as Black history continues in the form of the new generation, I find the very people carrying this history know nothing about it. ‘Portal Heroes’ is used to educate while entertaining.”
As she continues to work on technology in her free time, Ife wants young girls to know that they can do anything they set their mind to.
“There’s always a door, if not to find, then to create,” she said. “Express how you want to be in the field, take classes. Remember there is always room for you. Girl power is world power; when women and girls succeed, the world succeeds.”