“Nobody talks about entrepreneurship as a survival, but that’s exactly what it is and what nurtures creative thinking. Running that first shop taught me business is not financial science; it’s about trading: buying and selling.” – Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop
Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I am a Bay Area native, currently attending school at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I am in my last year of college as a masters student in the five year Computer Science blended masters (BS/MS) program. For the last two summers, I have interned at Square on Caviar and Square Cash. I love teaching and tutoring introductory computer science courses as well as volunteering and working with groups trying to improve diversity and inclusion within tech.
Fun Fact: In May I organized Expanding Engineering, where we brought 100 high school students to campus to learn about five topics within Computer Science. It combined my interest in teaching and improving diversity within tech. Although it was likely the hardest thing I’ve done, it was also the most rewarding.
What # would define your life journey?
I have been so fortunate to achieve many of my goals, yet sometimes I forget to look back, recognize what I have achieved, and be thankful of those who helped get me there. Often times I get caught up in looking at others’ achievements (whether personal, career related, or academic) and believe I am not working hard enough. Sometimes I need a reminder to appreciate myself and my achievements.
Favorite website / app:
Wikipedia. I believe knowledge is the root of success in our society. Wikipedia gives easy access to knowledge about pretty much any topic. When learning something new, I always go to Wikipedia first (and often end up in a rabbit hole of Wikipedia pages).
Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
I have had so many people in my life who imparted wisdom on me that has gotten to me where I am. But I feel like two come to my mind.
First, I shall go with the oh so stereotypical answer – my mom. She’s likely one of the wisest people I have met. Like anyone else, she isn’t perfect but she has taught me to always try my hardest. As well as to learn to always keep growing. Whether growth is in a title or growth is in mindset, it is important to keep trying to better yourself.
Second, my high school robotics mentor, Mr. Laitinen. He recently passed away and it reminded me of the impact he had on me in high school. I went to a competitive high school where I didn’t fit the norm. In a very grade centric school, my grades weren’t stellar to say the least. However, he never defined my worth by my grades or any other metrics. He never made me feel like I wasn’t smart and always had the patience and when teaching me. Instead of telling me no, he explained why and made a safe space where I could ask all the questions I wanted without the fear of being made to believe that I had asked a dumb question. He was the one who made me believe that I had potential and I could succeed if I stayed as I was and continued to work hard.
Song that makes you want to dance:
Whenever I am having a rough day I listen to Brave by Sara Bareilles and gets me up and dancing. I am also a big fan of Taylor Swift and Hindi movie music from 1994 to 2008.
Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
One time I struggled was when I was taking my college’s systems engineering course. It is a notoriously hard course but due to scheduling I ended up taking the course a quarter earlier than was normal – without the required prerequisites. It did not go as smoothly as all the previous courses I had taken.
I ended up bombing the midterm at a time when I was incredibly behind on our first of two major projects. I ended up taking a break from the class for a few days to focus on my other classes so that I could regain some confidence in myself. Before the break I also calculated what I needed to pass the class, and realized that as long as I completed the assignments I could still pass the class. Without the additional pressure of getting an A, I ended up being able to focus on understanding the course material and being able to apply that to the projects and assignments.
The two biggest lessons I learned through this experience:
1) It’s alright to take a break
2) Focus on learning instead of the end result
To be completely honest, I have no idea. I love teaching and I love helping organize events that help teach computer science to those who don’t have access to it otherwise. I have even thought about becoming a high school computer science teacher or a college professor. At the same time, I would love to get into technical management and be able to be a mentor to those within a company I work as well as mentor to those outside who hope to go into management one day. I would also like to be someone else’s Mr. Laitinen – inspire someone else to achieve more than traditional education might make them believe.
In other words, I have absolutely no idea what I will be doing 10 years from now. I can say for a fact 10 years before today I could not believe that I would be where I am now – having interned at Google and getting my masters. Even four years ago both would have been unbelievable. All I know is I’m going to work hard to follow my passion, surround myself with people who motivate and inspire me, and see where it all takes me.
What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Don’t be afraid to be imperfect or fail, especially when you have nothing to lose. When you are looking at a company or a scholarship and believe there is no way you will get it – just apply anyways. At worst you won’t get the internship or scholarship. There is no way to know without applying. When you want someone to be your mentor and you don’t know how to ask for it, then ask them. I always believe rejecting yourself is worse than having the other party reject you.
I think this is best represented in the words of others:
“Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.”
– Oprah Winfrey
“I also say to my team: Do 10 percent of your job shittily. It’s okay to do something shittily. Perfectionism prevents us from taking double steps in our career. We think we have to be perfect, but we don’t… I want women to be comfortable with being imperfect. I immediately see how girls are afraid to try things that they won’t be good in. And women stay with the things they’re good at even if that’s not what they’re put on this earth to do.” – Reshma Saujani, Founder of Girls Who Code