“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
My name is Mariela Ceja and I am currently a Senior at California State University, Monterey Bay. I am also mother to two young children. While it is hard to manage a balance between my life as a student and mother, I have been able to manage both by taking one step at a time. I make sure to prioritize my tasks every day. Whenever possible, I get ahead of my work to open up an extra day to enjoy with my family. I have made it a routine to spend at least one entire day of the week with my family. This has helped me cope with stress and feeling overwhelmed. Also, I made a commitment last year of subscribing to a gym for which I have been keeping up well. I believe all this has helped me throughout my years of college.
What # would define your life journey?
The hashtag #WomanInComputerScience would define my life journey. When I began college and declared my major to be Computer Science, I knew nothing about Computer Science. I was only driven to become a Computer Scientist because I loved working with computers and their software. In the first Computer Science class I enrolled in, I was the only woman out of 35 students. I then understood the challenges that comes with being a woman in computer science as men did not like to be corrected specially by a woman. They made it harder for me to communicate my ideas and thoughts. Eventually I learned how to speak to them in order to gain their respect and to stop being seen as a woman and rather as a computer scientist. This was definitely hard to do but by the end of the semester a student in our class, a male, approached me and asked me for help as I was working on my assignment. I felt proud and accomplished because even though it was only one male student in our computer science class, it was more than enough to prove that my efforts were paying off. After transferring from community college to the university, I felt the same way as I felt in college as it was a new environment but I was able to adapt quickly and apply the same method I used in community college to be respected as a computer scientist. This helped boost my confidence and allowed me to express myself freely without feeling judged. I would consider this to be a major factor which allowed me to get through school without having to drop out.
Favorite website / app:
My favorite app is currently Snapchat. I use it to communicate and send my friends funny texts or images once in awhile to help them smile even if they having a bad day. They do the same to me. At times, I am working diligently on a project and become overwhelmed. Then, I glance at my phone and notice a snap from a friend. Most are funny or entertaining. After viewing it, my energy rises and I work even harder on my project. Something which is also common of us to do is to use the Snapchat filters and produce a funny video or image with it. This app has allowed me and my friends to be closer than ever and enjoy each other’s company even while we are not hanging out together.
Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
Someone who greatly inspires me aside from my parents which have sacrificed a lot for my 6 siblings and myself is a previous professor of mine. She was my first computer science teacher and was the one who reached out to me after noticing that I was the only woman in her class. She spoke to me about different programs available for me a woman. She also made sure I felt comfortable while working with all the other men and that if ever I needed her advice or help, she’d be willing to meet up. Even now, we continue to talk and she continues to be there for me when I needed. I have not met a teacher or professor as supportive and helpful as she has been. For this, I am inspired to be like her as I am able to understand the impact it may have on an individual as it did with me.
Song that makes you want to dance:
All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey
Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
The biggest challenge has been a mother and student but I have been able to manage it by spending time with my family and giving myself my space when I feel stressed or overwhelmed.
In 10 years, I see myself owning my own business and being able to work most of the time from home where I can care for my family and take care of my business.
What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Although work and/or homework is critical, one must be able to set aside a few hours a week to dedicate to family and to yourself. This is helpful as it helps cope with stress.