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Oriana's Journey from Venezuela to Burnsville and a Future in Computer Science

Oriana Penaloza was new to the United States and while learning English at BHS, she used the Pathways at District 191 to learn another language that set the tone for her future in computer science.

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Oriana’s family came to the United States from Venezuela when she was in high school. She started at BHS in the ESL program learning English and a variety of other subjects at the same time. “I came to this country when I was a sophomore. It was challenging to me as I had to learn a new language and all of the new systems that I didn’t know about,” said Oriana. She decided to use the Pathways program to try a few new things and had interests in a variety of subjects including healthcare and computers. One class in particular really started her on her path towards a new passion. 

“I took a Java class as an elective that I thought sounded fun, and I just fell in love with coding,” said Oriana. “We did a lot of group projects and everything was very hands-on. We made a tic-tac-toe project and it was so fun to create an actual game and see people playing and testing it.” The Java class convinced Oriana that the healthcare field was not for her and got her very interested in computer science. 

After graduating from BHS, Oriana earned a full ride scholarship to Concordia College in Moorhead via the Act Six Scholarship, where she is studying computer science with minors in business and data analytics. She wants to find a job in computer science that would allow her to work from anywhere, including from home and while traveling the world. The Pathways at BHS showed her some of the possibilities that are available to someone with programming skills.

Pathways at BHS exposed me to different things and different people who helped me to learn more about the field that I was interested in. I have an advantage at college thanks to the Pathways at BHS and experience with Java. The Pathways helped me to not waste time by knowing what I wanted to major in and what I wanted to do.

- Oriana Penaloza

10th Grade

Oriana’s family moves from Venezuela to Minnesota. She enrolls in the ESL program at BHS.

11th grade

Oriana explores different classes in the Pathways programs and immediately falls in love with coding while taking a Java class. 

Oriana Penaloza

12th Grade

Oriana graduates from BHS with a full ride scholarship to Concordia College to study computer science.

Freshman Year of College

Oriana declares a computer science major with minors in business and data analytics. She finds she has an advantage thanks to the skills she learned in coding classes taken at BHS.