We love learning about local businesses, how and why they started, and getting to know their owners! It gives insight as to who they are and how they contribute to our community. Today, we want to introduce you to Sakina Fakhruddin, Founder and CEO of Codinu, which offers coding classes for kids ages 7 to 17 years old in Naperville. Her story is inspiring and I’m sure will give you a new appreciation for what she has created for our kids!
Our interview with Sakina:
Were you always interested in science and technology? Tell us about the journey to discover your passion.
I was born and brought up in Kuwait and my parents bought me my first computer when I was eleven years old. That was when I started dreaming about working with computers and eventually technology. I first learned to code when I was 15 and I was fascinated with the fact that a computer could do whatever I wanted it to do!
I then moved to India to pursue a degree in Computer Engineering and it was there that I decided to pursue my first job at IBM. Through IBM, I got the opportunity to visit the United States. When the time came for higher education, I went to University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee to pursue a Masters in Computer Science.
Wow, you were able to experience computers, technology, and engineering in many different settings. Were there any challenges that you faced being a woman in STEM?
I was very fortunate to have extremely supportive parents. My parents were both unable to pursue college, so they really valued education and wanted all three of their kids to go to college and get a degree. They instilled in me a belief that I could do anything. In my entire maternal and paternal family, I was the first girl to go to college. This was definitely not easy for my parents given the backlash from their family and friends, but they believed in me and here I am.
I went to an all-girls middle and high school so I basically grew up with a belief that girls could do anything. I entered the tech industry with a lot of confidence in my abilities. However, when I was the only female in the tech team most of the time, it became challenging to get a seat at the table. I had to prove myself and my ideas. That’s when I started reading about the gender gap in Computer Science and it became one of my mission to get more girls to learn to code.
What prompted you to leave your job and start Codinu?
After working for about ten years in the corporate world, I did some soul searching. I realized that all along, the one thing that I was truly passionate about was education and teaching how to code. I saw the need for outside-of-school learning avenues where kids can collaborate and learn to create technology. In the year 2016, there was a Computer Science For All initiative by the government to empower all American students from kindergarten through high school to learn computer science. I also got involved with Girls Who Code organization to promote their mission of bridging the gender gap in Computer Science. All of those factors led me to leave my job to pursue my passion for coding and education. And that’s when I founded Codinu.
Where does the name “Codinu” come from?
I have always been fascinated by short and unique brand names like Roku, Sony, etc. I wanted my company name to be short and a non-dictionary word! After a lot of brainstorming, we came up with the word Codinu, using the words “code” and “new”, implying a “new way to learn to code”. However, most people read this as “code in you” and I like that interpretation as well. Anybody can code!
Why do you think it is important that kids learn to code?
We live in a digital world where everything around us is driven by technology. Whatever career a child pursues, chances are technology will be a part of it. It is imperative that we take our kids to the other side of these gadgets and equip them with the skills to create technology rather than merely using it. Teaching our children how to code empowers them and prepares our society for the challenges of the information age.
Tell us more about how kids benefit from taking classes at Codinu.
Our instructors are highly qualified with a Bachelor’s or Masters in Computer Science or similar qualifications. This results in high quality interactions that help both boys and girls ages 7-17 build a command over coding and computer science. I believe that coding fluency requires immersive learning opportunities. We offer a 4:1 student-instructor ratio and a beginner to advanced curriculum along with a fun, engaging and collaborative environment.
Sakina Fakhruddin lives in Naperville with her husband and two kids. Her 9 year old son loves art, reading, and riding his bike. Her 18 month daughter spends her days singing, dancing, and playing ball.
Codinu is also featured in our guide to STEM Classes for Kids.