apple.com/newsroom on June 16, 2020.
For Sofia Ongele, 19, who just finished her sophomore year at New York’s Fordham University, her focus for change lies at the intersection of tech and social justice. ReDawn, her first iOS app, is a powerful example. After one of her college friends was sexually assaulted during her freshman year, Ongele created ReDawn to help survivors access resources in a safe, easy, and sensitive way.
“I wanted to make something that makes this process less isolating,” says Ongele, who has been approached by organizations that want to partner with her on the app. But the most important feedback she has received came from the friend who was assaulted. “She thinks it has the potential to impact people, and that’s what matters most to me.”
Ongele was introduced to coding in 2016 when she attended a Kode With Klossy boot camp, a free coding course for girls ages 13 to 18. Ongele says that learning to code transformed her world.
“There was a 180-degree paradigm shift within my brain — I was like, this is what I want to do,” says Ongele, who went on to teach with the program. “I’m so passionate about passing on that knowledge to more women, and women of color, so that they wouldn’t feel that this is a field that’s too out of reach for them to pursue.”
Ongele counts Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as heroes, and is trying to decide between law school or politics — or both. Regardless of the path she chooses, she knows that her coding skills will be part of the journey: “At the end of the day, I just want to be able to use tech for social good.”
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