The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission finds that only 36% of women are in IT careers. Then there’s Hannah Cheloha, a woman who codes and builds apps and does so with a social conscience.
Earning a micro certificate in iOS App Coding from Mesa Community College during the fall, spring and summer 2018 semesters when she was one of the first students to enroll in the Apple Everyone Can Code course, she returned in fall 2020 through fall 2021 for an app building internship.
She credits the learning opportunities offered at MCC and her instructors for her success as an American Sign Language (ASL) lecturer and ASL program coordinator at Arizona State University. “There is no doubt that I would not have been the preferred candidate if not for my IT and online teaching experience,” she says. “ MCC prepared me for success and provided the resources and opportunities to put my IT education and theories into practice.”
Hannah notes that Michael Bogner, MCC Computer and Information Systems faculty, reached out to her about the three-course internship program at the college designed to help students with app coding skills get real world experience. “The program established what could be described as an app boutique that partners with the Mesa Chamber of Commerce to connect businesses with student interns to build apps for businesses,” Hannah explains.
One of the first apps the interns created was Reach Out AZ connecting students with mental health and suicide prevention services for Mesa Public Schools.
Hannah also worked with her classmates and MCC faculty to develop the RISE (Resources, Information, and Services for Everyone) app as a pro-bono development operations manager and coder. The app connects Maricopa County Community College District students and students within other community college and higher education institutions nationwide with resources for free and modestly priced food, housing and healthcare.
As a final project for her internship, Hannah built an American Sign Language (ASL) dictionary app which became a companion app for her open education resource website, ASLInteractive. The website, for ASL students and interpreters, provides access to the dictionary and a variety of courses.
Hannah explained that at the time of her internship there was not much available for teaching ASL online so she worked with colleagues to build online materials to supplement existing materials. “I taught myself Wordpress, Final Cut Pro, basic html and other technologies for website building. When MCC offered the iOS app building courses I saw the sequence as the perfect opportunity to move my resources into the mobile assisted language learning arena.”
Her talent for app development has received national attention, specifically from Apple CEO Tim Cook. In 2020, Hannah was invited by Apple to attend a White House virtual event to share her experience with the Everyone Can Code program. She was also recognized a second time by the White House for her work on the RISE app.
To help narrow the gap between young girls and careers in STEM, Hannah has assisted MCC in its efforts toward this goal. She has volunteered with Girls Get IT, an MCC-sponsored event to facilitate a workshop for high school girls interested in STEM careers. “It was fun and rewarding to see young women excited about coding and technology and working together to problem solve and innovate.”