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The Perennial

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Wessels’ Coding Journey

Billy Lloyd

   In a small town in the middle of the Netherlands, a young girl’s fascination with coding jumpstarted a journey in computer science which would follow her throughout her life. From Utrecht, Netherlands to Los Altos, California, senior Cate Wessels’ passion for computer science reflects a profound commitment to innovation and community impact.

   Inspired by her father’s background in computer science, Wessels began experimenting with coding when she was six years old in Utrecht, exploring Scratch. Later, she advanced to Python.

   “Coding has always been a zen for me,” Wessels said. “When looking at someone else’s code, it is like looking into someone’s brain, and that is super personal.”

   In 2017, 10-year-old Wessels immigrated to America. While the language barrier initially deterred her from finding her place in America, her passion for discovering new languages helped her learn English very quickly.

   “I love learning new languages and have a good grip with multiple,” Wessels said. “I was able to pick up English so quickly because I find accents very interesting.”

   When Wessels moved, her passion followed her. In eighth grade, she taught herself iOS app development and co-founded ByteCamps, a program designed to provide tutoring services for coding, with her sister, Rosalie Wessels. It offers camps and private lessons in Scratch, Python, iOS app development and web development.

   Cate followed in Rosalie’s footsteps by taking on the role of president of Pinewood’s Technology Club. The club focuses on projects that have practical applications and solutions to real-world problems.

   “As Cate’s older sister, I have seen her leadership skills improve during her time as president of the club,” Rosalie said. “I am amazed by how well she took over the club, and how well she manages to motivate the rest of the members and lead projects.”

   In 2023, the younger Wessels led the initiative for Pinewood to host its inaugural hackathon on Dec. 2, also known as Pantherhacks.

   “It was a huge success,” Wessels said. “We gave out amazing prizes such as iPads and AirPods and participants produced some really cool projects.”

   Currently, Wessels is leading the development of a website for Pinewood college counseling, providing students with opportunities over the summer.

   Even though computer science has been her lifelong passion, Cate plans to merge her passion for computer science with her passion for biology by majoring in biotechnology in college.

   “Biotechnology is completely different from computer science,” Cate said. “But, in order to help the world solve climate change, looking at it from an engineering perspective instead of a policy perspective could make a huge difference in the world.”

   Watching her sister change career paths to make a positive impact on the world fills Rosalie with excitement for her sister’s future.

   “I am super proud of Cate, and look forward to seeing her grow even more during the upcoming years in college.” Rosalie said.

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