Congressional App Challenge Winner: Priya Koliwad

I’m the kind of person who loves to try new things. I absolutely love it! Now am I good at everything I try? No, not at all.

When I entered high school, there was a plethora of new opportunities. Within the first month of school I ran for class cabinet, joined my school’s Mock Trial team, Model UN team, and tennis team. I joined random clubs, talked to new people and made great friends. While I still am an avid participant of those activities and more, one of the best things as a freshman was joining my district’s Girls Who Code Club.

I have always considered myself a feminist, but I tended to steer clear of tech prior to high school since all the coding classes I saw only had boys. I wouldn’t have considered joining a coding Club if it weren’t for my friend, Uma Krishnan, who recommended I join the Club. As a senior, she was someone I looked up to.



I fell in love with code and all the incredible things I was able to make with it. I completed project after project, learned new languages, and felt a growing sense of confidence in myself. After my second year in Girls Who Code, I applied for the Summer Immersion Program. It was my best summer ever!

Not only did I meet extraordinary women from the tech industry, I am still in contact with many of them a year after the program ended! I also gained a network of female mentors and opportunities that I could never get anywhere else.

For example, my friend Kaitlyn and I came up with an app called Pocket Doctor, which provides basic medical information to people in developing nations. We have pages that help people identify serious symptoms so they can seek medical care in time to receive help, pages that show people how to clean and store water, and a page that shows people where all the medical facilities are around them in a 50,000-meter radius. At the end of the program, we entered it into the Congressional App Challenge. We ended up winning and are going to DC this week to present our app to members of congress and members of the tech industry.


Now that I’m a Girl Who Codes, I want to extend all the skills I gained into the political arena. I’ve always been interested in politics, but this past election has inspired me to become more involved in improving the lives of others and I can’t wait to see where all of this takes me!

Even though I may not end up working in tech, I am a much more independent and influential person now that I know how to code, and I know that in the future, if I want something done, I can do it myself.


Written by Priyanka Jadhav Koliwad