How I Decided to Build an App

Updated: Jul 3

Joel Sakyi, a 2020 IST graduate of Penn State, overcame his adversity and found a passion to serve his community by developing an app for underrepresented students.



A Challenging Academic Year

The 2018-2019 school year was a tough one for me. I don't want to invalidate the struggles we all go through to overcome the obstacles of being a student while also dealing with the unpredictability of life. At that point in time, I had finally gotten my academic career back on track after dealing with so much pain and loss... but I still felt like I was behind.


IST was my new major as a rising 5th year and I had only completed a semester and some change. If I wanted to get grow as a programmer, I needed to work my ass off to get there.


Finding My Passion

The best advice I've ever received when it comes to coding was that if you're going to spend time learning, work on a project that you'll be passionate about. I'll motivate you and you'll learn plenty on the way. So back in May 2019 with zero app development experience, I decided to create an app that will help underrepresented students have a safe space on campus.

An outline of the app homepage by Joel Sakyi.



A video of Joel showcasing the beginning structure of his working code.

Providing a Better Solution for My Community


I saw a collection of issues that prevented students from becoming more engaged with student organizations, which ultimately stops them from forming connections and accessing the resources Penn State has to offer. And honestly, I was tired of relying on GroupMe to be engaged cause it sucks no cap. I thought I could do it better. All the resources I needed to do it were free, easily available, and expansive.


The only thing I needed was to believe that I could overcome.


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