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Newport Harbor junior looks to create ‘Impact’ with her peers in 2022 Congressional App Challenge

Joyce De Quiros, a Newport Harbor High School junior, won the Congressional App Challenge.
Joyce De Quiros, a Newport Harbor High School junior, won the Congressional App Challenge with her app, “Impact,” which seeks to improve youth awareness of world events.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)
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Joyce De Quiros is a girl who sees a problem and devises solutions.

De Quiros, 17, said she noticed during her history classes that when her teachers would ask her classmates if they had the answer to something or if they were paying attention to any current events, no one would raise their hand.

“I felt like I needed to help my peers be more aware of our world events because I understand that we are going to be running this world someday,” De Quiros said.

Inspired by a competition, De Quiros created an award-winning app to meet that need.

“I really wanted to help my peers understand the world better, and one way I could do that was through community service, which I included in my app,” she continued. “There is a list of world events in each continent and when you click on it, you can get more information and a list of resources to help or make a difference, or make an impact, which is what I named my app.”

She decided to create the application after hearing about the 2022 Congressional App Challenge from a teacher. The challenge is hosted by the U.S. House of Representatives and aims to inspire students to pursue careers in computer science. The competition is district-specific, and De Quiros came out on top for California’s 48th Congressional District, represented by Rep. Michelle Steel.

She had participated previously in 2021 with a mental health and tracking app she called Eaze, capturing third place in the competition.

“I wanted to get first place just to prove myself,” De Quiros said. “I wanted to keep making apps for students to use ... so, I thought about it for a really long time trying to figure out what I wanted to do for the app. Something that was helpful for others, not just something that I wanted to make. It took me a really long time. Maybe four months? But it only took me two weeks to actually make the app. I had to stay up late for so many days to get it working.”

Joyce De Quiros, a Newport Harbor High School junior, won the Congressional App Challenge.
Joyce De Quiros, a Newport Harbor High School junior, won the Congressional App Challenge with her app, Impact.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

But since she had experience, it didn’t take her nearly as long as it did in 2021. Programming the Impact app started and was completed in November, in time to meet the competition’s deadline.

De Quiros waited all December for an email back, having expected one from either Steel or one of her assistants to announce the verdict on Impact, but she didn’t see any correspondence from the congresswoman’s office. So, De Quiros looked it up online and saw she was the one who won.

“I want to extend my congratulations to Joyce for winning this year’s Congressional App Challenge,” said Steel in a statement issued Dec. 30 announcing the win. “Her app is a reflection of the exceptional talent of Southern California students, and I commend her and all of this year’s participants for their hard work and creativity.”

De Quiros said she started screaming.

“I was ... telling my mom. ‘Look, look!’ and she was saying that she couldn’t read it because she didn’t have her glasses,” De Quiros said, laughing. “She was so excited for me and didn’t even know what it was. Turns out I did get an email [from Steel’s office], but it was [so buried in] all these college emails that I didn’t see it.”

The app isn’t offered on any Google or Apple store. It’s browser-based and designed to be accessed on phones. Interested readers can find Impact at thunkable.site/w/y5vB2-QuP.

De Quiros said she’s been programming since she was in middle school, when she was introduced to robotics. She hopes to pursue a career in computer science or engineering after she graduates from Newport Harbor High School.

She said she believed that not many students her age, including herself and her friends, felt that the events going on in the world directly impacted them. Those were things that the adults needed to take care of, she said.

“But, I believe we, right now, as 15- or 16-year-olds can make a difference,” she said.

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