#WomeninSTEM · #WomeninTech · inspiration · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Daniela Markazi

“Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.” – Anne Sweeney
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Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
When I was a high school freshman, I became involved in my school’s first ever FIRST (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology) robotics team as the only female team member and co-founder. I coached, programmed, designed, and built robots with my team. Furthermore, I was the head of community outreach, publicity, and fundraising. Throughout high school, my robotics team competed in local, regional, and state competitions and two world championships. I competed at my robotic team’s first world championship at the Edward Jones Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. Through my fundraising efforts, I made the Barrington community aware of the high school’s robotics team and robotics club, which had the most teams in the world!

After school during my senior year, I coached and mentored more than fifty gifted elementary students with the guidance of a University of Chicago professor on the fundamentals of computer science. Here, I founded the FIRST Lego League Robotics Club, where I convinced the Parent Teacher Organization to donate over $8,000 to buy eight robots and to form five robotics teams. I felt honored to be able to help and inspire young students to learn about technology. Through my coaching and mentoring efforts, the elementary students benefited by learning about robotics and the Barrington community benefited by having a more STEM-educated and conscious student population.
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One more thing, I was the NCWIT (National Center for Women & Information Technology) winner at the local, state, national runner-up, and national level. I became the only Illinois representative among 35 female national winners in March, 2015, and I went to Bank of America’s headquarters in Charlotte, NC to attend the ceremony. As the only Illinois representative, I received congratulatory letters from Governor Rauner and Senator Durbin.

A cool fact about myself is that I can sing opera, and I make singing parody videos on my YouTube channel about my favorite video game, League of Legends.
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What # would define your life journey?
#FindYourVoice! #FindYourPurposeInLife #BeDignified

Favorite website / app:
Skype! Since most of my family is halfway across the world, using Skype is the only way I get to see them.

Also, I like YouTube because it’s enjoyable and educational!

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
My grandmother is my hero. She came here from the Philippines in 1969. She dreamt of following her husband, but ended up becoming a single mother of two very young children, my mother and her brother. She struggled to find her way in a new country with a different culture than her own and, at that time, the United States was not as culturally diverse as it is now. The song, “I Will Survive,” means so much to her because she survived so many obstacles and hardships that immigrant families typically experience. By the time she died in 2014, my grandmother was contented knowing that she and her children lived a life of success. Her son became a mechanical engineer and her daughter became the president of her own company. Now, her grandchildren are following in their footsteps in finding “the American dream” with their families! My grandmother is my hero!

There’s one more person who inspires me. He is my computer science teacher, leader, and mentor, Mr. Thomas Bredemeier (“Mr. B”), who has been my inspiration in high school. Mr. B, as he was referred to in high school, was also the robotics team leader. He encouraged me to participate, he inspired me to succeed in this field, and he inspired my robotics team to succeed so that we competed twice in four years at the FTC (First Tech Challenge) World Championship in St. Louis. Without him, I would never have thought about being a part of STEM. Mr. B is my hero!

Song that makes you want to dance:
“I Will Survive” – composed by Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris and sung by Gloria Gaynor

This was my grandmother’s favorite fast dance song. This song represents the challenges, hardships, and obstacles that everyone encounters in life and the strength, relief, and pride one feels in overcoming them. I know that I will be tested throughout my life, and I must be prepared to handle those challenges with strength, grace, dignity, love, and respect.
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Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
It has been a challenge pursuing my endeavors in computer science and engineering as one or one of a few young women in my classes. I have learned to become stronger in pursuing my objectives, and I continue to strive to do better.

When I was a high school senior, I was the only student who took every computer science class offered (honors game design, honors robotics, AP computer science, data structures, honors mobile apps, and computer science: advanced topics). I became proficient in multiple coding languages: Java, HTML, Swift, JavaScript, C, C++, and CSS. In my game design class, I created a game called “Save the Gems,” where the player saves gems from evil bugs, and I won first place! Likewise, in my robotics class, I programmed a robot to battle other robots, and it defeated every robot in my class. I was the only girl out of 60 students in my class, and I won first place. Also, as a college freshman, I won first place with my male teammates by creating a robot which mimics an agricultural farming machine. I presented my robot at an engineering event last year. In addition to programming, I learned to draw and do graphic design projects on Adobe Photoshop. Now, I do biological engineering research, where I learn about Chemicals of Emerging Concern. Due to the chemicals that are discarded in the environment, more animals are becoming female. I am trying to determine ways to reduce the environmental and biological impact of these chemicals and learn how to apply them safely in different products, such as pharmaceutical drugs or cosmetics.

Being a female in a male-dominated STEM industry, I always felt that I wasn’t good enough, especially when I was in high school. I started off being shy and unsure. However, after gaining more confidence, I learned that I need to embrace my true self and my potential. I realized that I shouldn’t be too shy or else I won’t learn to explore and find opportunities to reach my potential. Right now, I’m still learning to find my voice. Eventually, with maturity, experience, and support of my loved ones, I know that I will find my true voice, calling, and purpose.
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Ideal Job:
As a college student, I am studying biological engineering at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in the hopes that we can find solutions to serious problems related to the environment and medicine. I believe those problems are interconnected. More and more people are becoming sick from diseases that may be caused by the environment. There has been such a dramatic increase in the incidence and types of cancer, neurological diseases, and others and quite a few new conditions like ADD and ADHD. By the same token, there have been a surge in the introduction of pharmaceuticals to cure the various diseases, but the cure has serious side effects that can cripple (if not kill) the patient. Then, there’s an issue of safely disposing the expired pharmaceuticals. We are dealing with global warming and other environmental issues that may potentially be harming us as a global community. Likewise, through bioengineering, many medical procedures are being done more easily. Through 3D printing, we are able to make new prosthetics, such as limbs for animals that would not have been able to survive and function normally without them. I want to be a part of this technological movement, where everything is being changed through advancements in technology. Hopefully, one day, we can find out how we can find solutions to these problems. I will try to contribute my skills, abilities, and education in some way to help find a solution.z

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What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Right now, we are on the cusp of even greater technological advancements with more and more women at the helm. Food, agriculture, medicine, businesses, fashion, security, banking, and just about everything we do relies on technology! We can be inspired to improve living standards and life by improving technology. We can make the impossible possible just by inventing new or tweaking current technology. We, as future technology leaders, will play a pivotal role in making this happen!

Life Quote
“You must do the things that you think you cannot do. – Eleanor Roosevelt
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