RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Jocelyn Marencik is just an undergraduate student at the university, but says she is focused on helping the next generation thrive, working to prepare students for the future by blending his passion for computing and community service.
Marencik, 21, is the founder and initiative director of Got Tec Richmond, a community-based initiative established in 2016 that donates technology equipment to underfunded and underserved schools in the Richmond area. She said the initiative started primarily to help public schools in the city of Richmond, but has since expanded to help schools in several counties in central Virginia.
Got Tec – Tech Gifts (for) Teachers, Education and Kids – also helps fund more equipment for these schools and runs “Learn to Code” events at schools where students can create their own games and entertainment.
Marencik mentors and helps students learn the basics of coding at these events, an effort that sometimes sparks new enthusiasm for computing.
“One of the things that comes out of that is that some of these schools start their own computer club or coding club of sorts,” Marencik said in an interview. “I’ve even had stories of students coming up to me and specifically saying ‘now I love coding, computer science is something I want to do in my future. “”
A graduate of Deep Run High School, Marencik now attends the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she started another branch of the initiative called Got Tec Greensboro.
“There are over 120 schools at this point, with a few more classrooms, probably up to 150 now, and about 3,000 students affected,” she told 8News when asked. on the scope of Got Tec.
Marencik was appointed 2022 Richmond History Makers Honored for “Creating Quality Educational Opportunities” and will be celebrated with fellow awardees at a celebration hosted by The Valentine on Tuesday, March 8.
“I’m absolutely honored because Got Tec is something that I’ve been passionate about computing and creativity and stimulating young minds for all this time,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to see the next generation grow and learn more about what’s to come.”
Marencik said she’s always been passionate about giving back to the community, ever since she was in preschool and kindergarten when she participated in food drives. But when her enthusiasm for computing started to grow, she said she started noticing a trend.
“When I was in early high school and out of college, I started getting into computer science and I was learning about programming and technology and I realized taking all these camps and classes, that a lot of underserved groups, underrepresented groups, and underserved schools in the city didn’t have as much access to technology as other schools in suburban areas,” Marencik said. “So that led me looking at what I could do to help that.”
Marencik said Got Tec was born out of his “simple donation” of a Chromebook to help a school expand internet access. The initiative raised funds through crowdfunding, donations, and even Marencik’s crochet.
According to his Facebook pageGot Tec donated over $56,000 in tech equipment to schools in Virginia and North Carolina.
While donations provide a much-needed resource for schools, Marencik says Got Tec’s work to help students learn basic coding and computer skills will have a lasting impact by giving them the skills needed to work in the job market. evolving.
“These kids will be prepared for the future, and technology is everywhere no matter what field they go into,” she told 8News. “I see them getting excited about their future. Determine what they want to do with their career. As they say, the next generation is the future.
Marencik said keeping his schedule and work organized allows him to balance Got Tec and school. She also credited her decision to stay focused on her interests, recommending people to combine their passions as well.
“Find two things that you love, for me it’s community service and IT, and bring them together, and not only will it have an impact for you, but it will have an impact for those you help,” said she declared.