inspiration · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Isabelle Wong

Happy Thursday Reigners! Meet Isabelle Wong, who I met through the Girls Who Code program. She is a fierce dancer, knows how to stick to challenges in the face of adversity, and wants women to keep trying and not give up!

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I’m currently a freshman at the University of Michigan planning on majoring in Computer Science in the College of Engineering.  On campus, I’m currently working on a software application, Apparition, with a mentor from the EECS department and School of Information that deals with crowdsourcing and HCI.  As a native New Yorker, I love exploring the city whether I’m trying out new restaurants or attending random events (such as the 2015 NYC Waterfight in Central Park)!

Fun Fact: When I was younger, I used to juggle three sports: tennis, swimming, and figure skating.

What # would define your life journey?
#StickToIt – My high school BC Calculus teacher once said to the class that at some point, everyone hits a brick wall but it’s up to you to choose whether to let that obstacle stand in your way or to work past it.  I’ve encountered numerous brick walls in the past, in athletics, academics, family, and mental strength but I’ve always managed to gather myself together and persist.  For a year or two after I first started coding, I would consistently think that I wasn’t knowledgeable or prepared enough to put my coding skills to use in a real project, resulting in my hesitation in applying for hackathons or internships.  I’ve moved past that mindset now (I was at Bank of America last summer and will be at Microsoft next summer!); I’m sticking to what I do and learning along the way.

Favorite website / app:
Snapchat is easily one of my most used apps.  It’s a fast and easy way for me to stay in contact with friends (both old and new).  Being able to see the faces of people I don’t have the opportunity to see in person everyday makes the communication feel a lot more real.

Song that makes you want to dance:
Dessert by Dawin feat. Silento – Dancing has always been a side hobby/thing I’ve wanted to learn for a while now.  From time to time, I watch dance videos on Youtube and my most recent obsession has been Lia Kim’s choreography to this song at 1MILLION Dance Studio!

Technical challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
Having never worked on such a large-scale coding project before, I felt somewhat intimidated coming onto the Apparition team.  I’ve mainly been working on making small component changes and additions which have made this project become an incredibly rewarding learning experience for me.  My mentor has been a wonderful guiding resource to me as well, assisting me with problems that I find myself running into during development.

Ideal job:
Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what my ideal job would entail as I feel that I have not yet had enough exposure.  However, I do know that ideally, I would love to work with a diverse team of people in terms of skills and background.  I believe I work best when I can learn from those around me.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Keep trying; in the end, any effort is better than no effort.  Don’t hold back on doing something just because you think you may not be good enough or because it’s something entirely new.  If you want to gain experience interning at a startup, do some research, talk to people, apply.  If you want to learn how to dance, go take some dance classes and attend dance workshops open to the public.  Most importantly, the point is not whether you succeed or fail in your endeavors, but rather that you gave it your best shot rather than laying back and letting the chance pass by.



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