“Do what you love; you’ll be better at it. It sounds pretty simple, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t get this one right away.” – LL Cool J
Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
Hi there! I’m Kelly Lampotang. I’m a sophomore at the University of Southern California where I’m studying computer engineering and computer science. I’m passionate about helping others discover their interests in tech and recently co-founded and hosted AthenaHacks, Southern California’s largest all-female hackathon. I love iOS development, building lil robots, and attending hackathons. You can find me on the weekends at LA’s many brunch spots or posing in front of the city’s colorful painted walls.
Fun fact – Part of my hair is dyed a blue-y turquois-y color (very similar to the ocean!)
What # would define your life journey?
Favorite website / app:
At my first hackathon, HackMIT, I used Clarifai and since then have fallen in love with how easy and simple it is to use. If you want to try incorporating computer vision in a project, try Clarifai. I’m also such a fan of Figma. It’s like Google docs for design. It’s simple to use and can help with anything you need to design. Finally, I recommend VSCO for anyone who’s into Instagram and wants to make their pictures look bright and fun. VSCO is a photo-editing app and the C1 filter is where it’s at.
Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
My mom has been a huge inspiration throughout my whole life. When I was younger she’d tell me stories about how hard she worked in school to get what she wanted. She grew up on the small island of Mauritius where it wasn’t as common for girls to go to college and didn’t have nearly as many resources as are available today to pursue your interests. With lots of hard work, she ended up majoring in computer science in London at the University of Manchester. She quickly discovered computer science was not for her but it was hard for her to change her major so she stuck with it. In addition, she often told me about how she was one of few women in the major. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to be a foreigner and surrounded by mostly men in a new place but she tells me she made it through with lots and lots of hard work. Her perseverance and determination have been such an inspiration to me.
Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
When I was younger I was a pretty shy kid. I didn’t speak up for most of elementary school and in middle school I usually avoided bringing attention to myself. When I entered high school, I saw it as an opportunity to change. I started out by taking small leadership roles and joining clubs, including my high school’s math team to compete in Mu Alpha Theta competitions. (Ironically, the national and state math competitions we competed in were known as Mu Alpha Theta, which now many people in college mistake for a fraternity.)
Mu Alpha Theta not only showed me how far hard work can take you, but also became a place for me to take leadership roles. As I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, bit by bit, I became more comfortable taking on larger opportunities. By the end of high school, I was the president or vice president of a couple clubs, but more importantly, I’d gained a lot more self-confidence. Incrementally pushing myself out of my comfort zone (and not having anything disastrous happen as a result each time) showed me that I could do more than I thought I was capable of. In college, I followed the same routine and found myself not only joining clubs, but also co-founding clubs and events. I’ve also found that it’s easy to end up with too much on your plate this way, but I’ve learned to be comfortable pulling back and focusing on what’s best for me!
Before I discovered computer science in my senior year of high school, art was my main passion. While I don’t have as much time to dedicate to it in college, my dream job would incorporate both art and technology. I also love traveling to discover new cultures and meet new people so it’d be a bonus if my job involved traveling as well!
What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
No one can do everything perfectly. If you find yourself overwhelmed and stressed by everything you’re trying to dedicate time to (which I realized I was doing this year), I recommend that you take a step back from it all and figure out what you really love. Focus on those things. Apply all of your passion and determination to those select things and you’ll find yourself happier and thriving.
Learn more about Kelly! Check out her website!