Dan Rhoton wants to show off the vitality of Camden, N.J.
Rhoton is the executive director of Hopeworks ‘N Camden, a program dedicated to teaching tech and other skills to young adults. Hopeworks held Camden’s first hackathon earlier this month.
We attended a pre-hackathon event and met some of Hopeworks trainees.
There was Justin James Connor, a Camden County College student, who wants to go into technology when he graduates.
“You get to see and meet different people who are just like you, but we’re all on different levels,” he said of Hopeworks. “Hopeworks can provide professionals who can give you lessons for those who want to know about coding and development with the web. A college student like me, getting to work with professionals? That’s something that I never would have imagined.”
Connor said he got interested in technology because his mom would always ask him for help with her gadgets.
“I would troubleshoot different problems and see if I could fix them myself, without having to go to a store,” he said. “And that eventually got me somewhere.”
Other Hopeworks trainees included:
Michael Evans, a Toms River high school grad who produced his own personal website while at Hopeworks.
Gabrielle Lee is a graduate of Camden Academy Charter High School currently attending Camden County College. She spoke of the close-knit nature of the program.
“There’s professional training, but we’re still family,” she said, adding that “it’s like an everlasting tree that continues to grow, and drops its seeds to form even more sturdy, uncuttable trees.”
As for Rhoton, he said of this trainees: “They’ve got this. All they need is a bit of a push. Anyone can build a skyscraper, but it will be their companies that fill up those skyscrapers.”