inspiration · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Faye Cheng

“You can’t give up! If you give up, you’re like everybody else.” – Chris Evert

Happy Tuesday Reigners! Meet Faye Cheng, a student at Mills College. Read on to see her involvement with Grace Hopper, what her life journey has been centered around, and how she’s worked with Computing for Good.

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
My name is Faye and I am an upcoming graduate studying Computer Science at Mills College, a small liberal arts institution in the SF Bay Area. As a career-changer coming from a non-technical background in Sociology and Business, my path to Computer Science has been unconventional and often intimidating. Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to participate in my first hackathon at the 2015 EmpowHERment Summit hosted by Qualcomm. This event helped me realize that my non-technical experiences were not handicaps, but assets to my role as a Computer Scientist. I was invited to be a speaker at the 2015 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, where I gave a 40-minute presentation encouraging attendees to participate in hackathons and overcome feelings of intimidation and the imposter syndrome. I find much fulfillment in providing advice and mentorship to my peers, and I enjoy coming up with innovative ideas and technical solutions to solve real problems.

Fun fact: I was voted as Street Hockey MVP by my peers, and I was one of two girls on the entire team.
Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 11.31.05 AM

What # would define your life journey?
1. I believe that one opportunity leads to another, and my life journey has been all about self-growth and improvement, and embracing as many opportunities as possible. No matter where you end up, everything begins with the conscious decision to try; everything begins with a 1st step.

Favorite website / app:
Yelp, Quora

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted (if any):
Christina Treble was one of my supervisors when I was an undergraduate at UC Irvine. As a current honors advisor for the Campus-wide Honors Program at UCI, Christina helps advise and mentor countless students in navigating their academic and career goals. She inspires me because she is one of the most supportive and encouraging people I know. When I was just a rising sophomore, I approached her with an idea to start a mentorship program for students in our department. Christina believed in me and my mission, and helped me transform an idea into a full-fledged program which still exists as a major resource to the UCI community. Christina leads by example and by believing in others, and I could not be the leader that I am today without her support.

Ellen Spertus is one of my professors at Mills College. Ellen obtained her PhD from MIT and is an intelligent and extremely talented Computer Scientist, and has dedicated her life’s work to be an educator at an all-women’s college in an effort to encourage young women to study CS. I took my first programming class with her, and was immediately hooked when she introduced me to what programming can do and what real problems it can solve. Her commitment to promoting diversity in STEM is the reason why she is one of my greatest inspirations.

Song that makes you want to dance:
Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton

Technical challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
I took a Computing For Good course where I worked on a 4-person team to help the Grameen Foundation develop an open-source module for their MOTECH (mobile technology) platform. Despite our efforts, we kept running into issues with setting-up our computers with the needed software, and could not get past the setup and research stages due to these technical challenges. As Project Owner, I helped keep open communication among my team and updated weekly tasks and reports. When we realized that we could not complete the project, I helped my team change course to providing as much technical knowledge and project research to present back to the Grameen Foundation. I learned that not all projects succeed, and when they don’t, accept it and try your best with what you have. It is still a great learning opportunity.

Ideal Job:
My ideal job would be to be a Product Manager for an influential tech company where my ideas and cs knowledge could make meaningful impacts on society and the world. This position would combine my interests and skills in leadership, sociological awareness, visual design, and computer science and I am very excited to learn more about the role of a PM.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Believe in yourself and believe in others. And do not be afraid of new challenges; inexperience just means that there is more to experience.

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