Students Rising Above Launches CODEversity, Increasing Diversity in Tech

June 19, 2019 — Today, Students Rising Above launched, CODEversity, an eight week, virtual coding camp, offering college students the fundamentals of coding while gaining career exposure through visits at leading tech companies throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including Atlassian, Workday, and Zoom.

CODEversity provides SRA Rising Stars, from rising college freshman to rising college seniors, as well as SRA SOAR students with the opportunity to obtain invaluable coding skills from tech professionals with over 60 years of collective coding experience.

“We’re thrilled to launch CODEversity in efforts to increase diversity in the tech industry by equipping students with little to no prior coding experience with the tools and resources to access opportunities in tech,” said Paula Galvez-Anzano, Students Rising Above Manager of Talent Development. “We’re honored to partner with leading software developers, engineers, and product managers rooted in Silicon Valley to serve on the CODEversity Advisory Committee, who are sharing their counsel and expertise with the next generation of leaders.”

While U.S. college degree attainment has increased to an all-time high of 46% nationwide, serious opportunity gaps for college students from underserved communities still remain. On average, 65% of low-income youth graduate from high school and 45% will enroll in college, but only 11% will complete postsecondary degrees. (National Educational Longitudinal Study)

Students Rising Above works to close these gaps and helps students break the cycle of poverty by connecting them to the tools, resources, and supportive community they need to excel and thrive on their college-to-career journey.

CODEversity is SRA’s first step in offering students technical skills, opening doors to learning computer science fundamentals and the wide world of the tech community and all that it has to offer throughout the Bay Area.

“As a young woman in tech and a current SRA Rising Star, I am passionate about increasing diversity and representation within STEM careers.” said Taylor Rabbitt, SRA rising college senior at Boston University and CODEversity Advisory Committee member. “I am confident that by exposing interested students to the wonders of working in technology, we will enable these students to make the decision to pursue a rewarding technical career.”

Meet the SRA CODEversity Advisory Committee below and follow us for updates on our students’ coding journey.


Nikita Gupta, Co-Founder & CTO, Symba

Nikita Gupta is an entrepreneur with a degree in Computer Science from Cornell University. At Cornell, she launched Girls Who Code in Ithaca, NY and was heavily involved with Women in Computing. She has previously worked with Apple Inc., Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and a couple startups as a software engineer. Nikita is currently the co-founder and CTO of Symba, a platform to help companies manage their short term workforce and prepare for the next generation of work.

Nikita is excited to serve as an advisor to the CODEversity program to help educate students on Computer Science fundamentals and provide them the opportunity to gain experience in the tech industry.

Originally from NJ and India, Nikita is currently residing in San Francisco. In her spare time, she can be found cooking (, dancing, or scuba diving.


Taylor Rabbitt, SRA rising college senior at Boston University and Security Software Engineer Intern, Apple Inc.

Taylor Rabbitt has been with SRA since 2015 when she joined as Rising Star Scholar. Upon graduation from Aragon High School in SanMateo, Taylor moved across the country to study Computer Science and Mathematics at Boston University. After recently taking the spring semester of her junior year off from BU to intern at Tesla Motors, she is now moving into her 5th technology internship as a Security Software Engineer at Apple, Inc. As a woman in tech, she is passionate about increasing diversity in the tech industry and joined the Students Rising Above’s CODEversity Advisory Board to encourage interested students to pursue a career in tech. 


Robert Kukuchka, Core Audio System Software Engineer, Apple, Inc.

Robert Kukuchka, a 15 year veteran of the software engineering field where he has spent the majority of his career focused on audio technologies in both the pro audio and consumer field. Over the span of his career he’s gravitated towards mentorship roles while still being passionate about software fundamentals and design.   Robert joins the advisory board for CODEversity from his experiences in the Career Mentorship program at Students Rising Above, and a desire to assist students showing interest in entering the tech field. In his free time Robert enjoys painting tiny spacemen and making beeps with synthesizers.


Mark Mastrangelo, Product Manager, Adobe

Mark Mastrangelo brings over 5 years of experience in the Advertising Tech industry, ranging from Sales to Training & Development to Product Management. In his current position as a UI/UX Product Manager for the Adobe Advertising Cloud he is focused on making every interaction with software a delightful experience.

Mark is from Madison, WI and attended Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, where he continues to work with current college students as a Kelley Alumni Leader. He most recently called Chicago home for four years before moving to San Francisco in 2017.

After attending a Career Workshop with SRA Mark was greatly impressed by the students drive and wanted to help give back in the Tech world that he lives and breathes each day. He’s excited to see what new heights these rising students can bring to The Bay Area.


Jessica Tai, Software Engineer, Airbnb

Jessica Tai has 5 years of experience as an Airbnb software engineer and a Stanford computer science (Computer Science) course assistant. At Airbnb, she is VP of the women in tech committee focusing on leadership and development. She also is an international conference speaker and an SRA mentor to Diana, a Computer Science major. Jessica has a BS from UCLA and an MS from Stanford.

With neither prior experience nor intention of majoring in Computer Science in college, she has a passion for introducing coding to those without previous exposure. The Advisory Committee is an exciting opportunity to channel this energy into building students’ coding skills and encouraging continued Computer Science studies.


Lisa Kossiver, Advisor, Selection & Outreach Chair, Students Rising Above and Math & APCS Educator, Aragon High School

Lisa Kossiver has been involved with Students Rising Above since 2002 when she initially served on the Board of Directors. In 2004 she assumed the role of Student Outreach and Selection Chair, and in 2005 she became a Student Advisor. As a Student Advisor, Lisa has helped over 60 SRA students graduate from college and enter into the workforce. In addition to her roles at SRA, Lisa has been in the field of education for over 31 years.

“As an AP Computer Science teacher I see how crucial it is for students to learn how to code.  Many believe it is difficult to learn, but I have seen students who have NEVER coded before become expert coders.  It is a skill that all students should be exposed to, but not all schools or school districts in the Bay Area make it accessible to all. CODEversity is a way that SRA can make coding accessible to our students and dispel the myth that code is “hard” and just for “those” students.  SRA students should be coding.