Faculty of Mathematics alum created after-school coding club to promote diversity in STEM

Thursday, March 3, 2022
Mélissa Tardibuono

Mélissa Tardibuono (BMath ’14) embodies the best values of the Faculty of Mathematics.

A hard worker, who knows what it takes to get top grades. A self-starter, with the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. And a thoughtful person with a passion to create a better world, providing opportunities for youth to fulfill their potential.

After finishing her degree at Waterloo and taking a subsequent degree in education, Tardibuono began a career in teaching and currently works at École secondaire Ronald-Marion in Pickering.

Alongside her work in the classroom and specific courses, she also started an after-school coding program, with the aim of encouraging inclusivity and diversity in STEM.

It was when she was at Waterloo that Tardibuono first got involved in outreach efforts aimed at helping other women and girls get into STEM fields. She worked with CS Girls Rock, which was a program for secondary school girls to learn about computer science and coding.

Working with girls and helping them learn tech skills lit a fire in Tardibuono. She always had an interest in teaching, influenced by her mother, and it became her passion to reach girls and young people more generally at the time in their lives that could make a difference.

Melissa Tardibuono

“We do coding and develop tech skills, of course,” she said. “But it’s also about leadership and personal growth. There are students who are ambassadors with Canada Learning Code and they are the ones who prepare the materials and run the workshops.”

“What I’ve learned is that it’s important to plant the love of computer science early, so the skills are there by the time the girls get to university. But I’ve also learned that it’s about self-confidence and self-actualization. It’s my life mission to get more diversity and inclusivity in STEM, and I feel like I’m on the right track with the coding program.”

Tardibuono is currently expanding her outreach efforts working with her team at Canada Learning Code as a chapter lead and developing the Teen Ambassador’s coding clubs.

She is also launching a new website, which aims to connect with a broader audience of women and girls. Learn more on TheCodingBarbie.com website.