Growing up, I never thought I would be running a national non-profit organization growing up. Not in a million years.

To provide a little context, my parents were first-generation immigrants from Vietnam and they worked hard to provide my sister and I with every opportunity possible when it came to building and reaching our own dreams. My parents believed education was the most important foundation to success and because of this, they relied heavily on the Canadian education system to educate and expose us to opportunities they did not know existed.

When people asked me as a young girl what I wanted to be when I grew up, my immediate response was to be a doctor or a CEO. I had not narrowed down what type of business I would be overseeing, but I thought the sound of those three big letters — CEO, sounded like the definition of success. My definition of success at age 11 was very different from how it has evolved today. I didn’t know how to “find my passion”, nor what it meant to have a passion in the first place, so pairing passion with what I was good at was barely on my radar. At age 11, I would not have imagined that my journey would lead me to build a female-led, non-profit with the mission to close Canada’s gender gap in tech. But the path was not straightforward, years later I’ve experienced a wide range of seemingly disconnected jobs — jobs I loved and jobs I strongly disliked.

Today, I’m proud to say passion is a word I use often when I speak about Hackergal’s team, our champion educators, and the girls we inspire to learn code across the country. I believe passion and the right champions directly correlate to success. Finding and tapping into my own passion for technology and education has led me to create an organization that truly *insert Marie Kondo voice* sparks joy in my life, allowing me to identify a need and create meaningful impact. I’m continuously inspired by educators and parents that go above and beyond the curriculum to provide opportunities for girls to create, explore, and dream. These experiences are what ultimately led me to create ( and work hard to sustain) Hackergal. It is important that every girl has the opportunity to explore what she is passionate about through various experiences and strong mentors. It is important that we do our best to provide the environment and culture that allows girls to try new things, ask questions, and be curious. This allows them to experience failure and success in many little and big ways and most of all, cultivate their resilience.

Although there is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to closing the gender gap, I’m proud to say Hackergal has made strides to empower and educate girls when it comes to learning through technology experiences. My hope is that the Hackergal program will contribute to girls finding their own passion and becoming the leaders and influencers they never imagined. #GOALS!

“ I have never seen my daughter so excited, grateful and appreciative of a learning experience thus far. I applaud Hackergal for the efforts and courage for allowing girls an opportunity to challenge the status quo. You have imparted knowledge, self-confidence and curiosity within our daughter within a day. I know I was alone when I had interested in STEM growing up and quit my first year engineering for that reason. I still find challenges in obstacles in my line of work because I am a female in the workforce.” — Hackergal Parent