Jay’Aina “Jay Jay” Patton isn’t your typical high school junior. She started learning to code, or write instructions for computers to follow, when she was only 10 years old. Jay Jay was inspired to learn coding from her father, Antoine. He went to prison when she was a toddler. During his eight years there, he studied computer programming. After his release, he started a nonprofit organization called the Photo Patch Foundation. The organization enables children to send photos and letters via a website to parents who are in prison. At age 12, Jay Jay created an app to make the free service more convenient for kids.
Now 16, Jay Jay helps run Unlock Academy, an online school she founded with her father. The school aims to make coding more accessible to young girls and minority communities, particularly people of color. Jay Jay’s ultimate goal when it comes to coding, she says, is “to get to the point where I’m as good as my dad.”