Seniors in the Cobb Schools Class of 2020 soon will step out on their own paths. Their full impact on the world is not yet known, but there are some, like Walton senior Dipen Mehta, who started impacting the community long before picking up their caps and gowns.
Dipen is the founder and president of Coding for Community, an organization that “seeks to harness the power of technology and education to empower underprivileged and disadvantaged communities across the globe.”
Last year, Dipen received the Distinguished Gifted Teen Award from the Georgia Association for Gifted Children and was recognized by the Cobb County School Board for his work with Coding for Community.
Catherine Mallanda, Principal at Walton, had nothing but good things to say about Dipen. She said he has “always been a hard-working student and has excelled in high school due to a combination of his work ethic as well as his natural intelligence and curiosity. What truly sets him apart from his peers, however, is his passion using his talents to help in underserved communities.”
“He saw a need for more STEM education in those communities,” she continued, “and along with his brother, found a way to do his part toward meeting it. Together, they founded Coding for Community, a program that works in schools to supplement the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education and with adults who lack basic computer skills. This program has made an impact on children and adults both in his community and across the world.”
Dipen’s passion for computers and software got him interested in helping his fellow students and those in his community. Along the way, he has learned the power of making a difference.
“Through my experiences as a volunteer,” he said, “I have been able to witness firsthand the power of education, science, and technology to transform lives and empower communities.”
Following Dipen’s leadership, Coding for Community has four main pillars upon which they base their goals and work:
- Local outreach
- Refugee outreach
- Social technology
- International outreach.
Coding for Community seeks to help in their local community by partnering with senior centers and elementary schools to teach basic and intermediate computer skills. They also help refugees with the same, as well as helping to prepare them for the U.S. citizenship exam.
For social technology and international outreach, they seek to use the tools they build, like apps and software, to help solve common problems such as food waste and health care. They also repurpose older technology for a new life using donated computers and peripherals.
The Cobb Senior’s Motivation to Serve Started Early
Dipen’s family moved around a lot when he was younger. He met many refugees and immigrants and this made an impression on him and became an early influence that motivated him to share his skills and knowledge.
“I made many friends that were refugees,” he said, “and this was one of the first experiences that strongly influenced me to begin volunteering and helping those around me.”
The STEM education that he received at Sope Creek Elementary School was also influential and helped him understand that not everyone had access to such training.
“I came to realize that not all schools in my county were like Sope Creek,” he said, “and not all populations got such exposure to STEM. That is how, in tenth grade, I was inspired to found Coding for Community and volunteer to provide equal exposure and opportunities in STEM to disadvantaged communities across the world.”
Dipen firmly believes that giving back is vital to being part of a community.
“Your sense of community and a culture of service starts young,” he said. “Giving back creates tremendous positive change in the lives of others, but it also shows that everyone can use their own abilities to make this positive change a reality, thereby strengthening their own self-esteem and willingness to help.”
Dipen is currently deciding between various 7-year BS/MD accelerated medical programs at several universities. He is looking at Rutgers, Duke, Columbia, Rice, and the Medical College of Georgia. He also plans to pass off the Walton Coding for Community to someone else but plans to start one at his college of choice.
“I look forward to expanding Coding for Community efforts in Georgia and the country throughout my years in college,” he said. “I plan on continuing my efforts by starting a chapter wherever I go to college and coordinating efforts with the Walton club and future chapters at other schools.”
Good luck in your future endeavors, Dipen. You’ve already made Walton and Cobb County proud, and we’re sure you’ll continue to do so.