Richmond History Maker: Jocelyn Marencik combines her passions to help the ‘next generation grow’

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Jocelyn Marencik is only a junior in college but says she’s focused on helping the next generation thrive, working to prepare students for the future by intertwining her passion for computing and community service.

Marencik, 21, is the founder and initiative manager for Got Tec Richmond, a community initiative created in 2016 that donates technology equipment to underfunded and underserved schools in the Richmond area. She said the initiative started mainly helping Richmond City Public Schools but has since grown to assist schools in several counties in Central Virginia.

Got Tec — Gifts of Technology (for) Teachers, Education, and Children — also helps fund more equipment for these schools and organizes “Learn-to-Code” events at the where students can create their own games and animations.

Marencik mentors and helps students learn the basics of coding during these events, an effort that sometimes sparks a newfound enthusiasm for computer science.

“One of the things that come from these, is some of these schools start their own computing club or coding club of some sorts,” Marencik said in an interview. “I’ve even had some stories of students coming to me and specifically telling me ‘now I love coding, computer science is something I want to do in my future.'”

A Deep Run High School graduate, Marencik now attends the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she has launched another branch of the initiative called Got Tec Greensboro.

“It’s over 120 schools at this point, with a few more classrooms, probably up to 150 by now, and around 3,000 students impacted,” she told 8News when asked about the reach of Got Tec.

Marencik has been named a 2022 Richmond History Makers honoree for “Creating Quality Educational Opportunities” and will be celebrated along with her fellow honorees during a celebration hosted by The Valentine on Tuesday, March 8.

“I am absolutely honored because Got Tec has been something that I have been passionate about computing and creativity and sparking young minds for all this time,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to see the next generation grow and learn more about what’s to come.”

Marencik said she’s always been passionate about giving back to the community, dating back to when she was in preschool and kindergarten when she would take part in food drives. But when her enthusiasm for computing started to grow, she said she began to notice a trend.

“Back when I was in early high school and late middle school, I started getting an interest in computer science and I was learning about programming and technology and I realized as I was taking all these camps and classes, that a lot of underserved groups, underrepresented groups and underserved schools in the city didn’t have as much access to technology as other schools in suburban areas,” Marencik said. “So, that started me to look at what I could do to help this.”

Marencik said Got Tec grew from her “simple donation” of a Chromebook to help a school with expanding internet access. The initiative has raised money through crowdfunding, donations and even Marencik’s crocheting.

According to its Facebook pageGot Tec has donated more than $56,000 in technology equipment to schools in Virginia and North Carolina.

While the donations provide a much-needed resource to the schools, Marencik says Got Tec’s work to help students learn basic coding and computer skills will have a lasting impact by giving them the skills to work in the evolving job market.

“These children will be prepared for the future and technology is everywhere no matter what field they join in,” she told 8News. “I’m seeing them getting excited for their future. Figuring out what they want to do with their career. As they say, the next generation is the future.”

Marencik said keeping her calendar and work organized allows her to balance Got Tec and school. She also credited her decision to remain focused on her interests, recommending that people also combine their passions.

“Find two things that you like, for me, it’s community service and computing, and bring them together, and not only will it be impactful for you but it will be impactful for those who help,” she said.

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