student @ uw-madison
I am a first-year graduate student in the Computer Sciences Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, pursuing my M.S. in Computer Sciences.
I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May 2018 with a B.S. in Computer Sciences & Spanish and a Certificate in Digital Studies.
An important part of my undergraduate experience was studying in Madrid, Spain for almost six months. If you'd like to read more about my experience, check out my study abroad blog here. For fun, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family (and my beagle, Parker), playing guitar, watching movies, taking pictures, and being outside as much as possible when it's warm.
This semester, I'm a teaching assistant for the CS 400 section at Epic Systems in Verona, WI. CS 400 at UW-Madison is the third course in the programming fundamentals sequence and focuses on data structures, complexity analysis, GUI programming, web development, version control, and more. Being a TA for this course is helping me to relearn what I've forgotten, solidify concepts, and learn new things too. As a TA, I hold weekly office hours at Epic, answer student questions on Piazza, coach a student team for their large programming assignment, create programming assignments, write scripts for automated tests, grade manually, and proctor exams. I'm really interested in Computer Science Education, so it excites me to have the opportunity to learn teaching practices from the course instructors, as well as help students to learn the material myself.
WACM is the University of Wisconsin-Madison's chapter of ACM-W, ACM's Women in Computing. I have been a member of WACM for a couple years now, and this semester I began my role as a Mentoring Co-Chair. I will be organizing mentoring events for the organization with the goal of connection graduate mentors with undergraduate mentees. I think it is a very meaningful use of time to form these connections and learn from each other as women in the technology field.
Last summer, I was a Lead Teacher at Engineering for Kids of Dane County, an organization that offers STEM courses to kids in the area. I mainly taught the courses Game On! Code Your Own Roblox Games and Minecraft Modding & Programming. We used a website called Code Kingdoms to teach kids about coding principles without worrying about getting stuck on syntax. We taught Lua for the Roblox course and Java for the Minecraft course. My objective was always to create a fun and inclusive learning environment for the kids to learn something new, become more confident programmers, and make some friends along the way. I had a blast teaching so many different kids over the summer, and I had a lot to learn from them too!
In Spring 2018, I worked on a team with four other undergraduates to create a plan for a startup in hopes of winning the NEST Competition, hosted by the Computer Sciences Department at UW-Madison along with gener8tor. We created a mobile peer-to-peer payment application that puts bill splitting and group payments as top priorities. In my roles as User Experience Designer and Front End Developer, I designed the interface for our application (see Portfolio page) as well as begun the implementation for the iOS application. Although we did not win the competition, the designs we presented were well-received by the judges, three local industry leaders.
During the Spring 2018 semester, I volunteered at the Salvation Army through a service-learning course at UW-Madison. Along with two other undergraduate students in the CS department, I led a club to teach Scratch to elementary schoolers after school. I had a lot of fun learning together with my peers and the students in our club. Being a part of this club was special to me as I feel strongly about introducing computer science to young students, especially those who may not have otherwise gotten exposure to programming so early on. For more information on the CS 402 course, click here.
I attended the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Orlando, FL along with with 18,000 other women in tech. In 1985, women represented 37% of Computer Science majors in the US. This number is now down to 18% nationwide, and at UW it’s 14%. So, at a time when women’s involvement in the field is dismal, it could not be more important to talk about diversity. We can’t fail to discuss intersectionality and how women of color and LGBT women in tech are affected. That being said, it’s also a time to celebrate awesome women in Computer Science! To be able to hear from women like Melinda Gates, Dr. Fei-Fei Li, Diane Greene, and so many others who have made such a critical impact in the field was inspiring. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have gone – without the sponsorship of WACM and the UW CS Department, I would not have had this amazing experience! I am so excited to be attending the 2018 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing this year in Houston, TX through WACM at UW-Madison!
After my application for a scholarship was noticed by the University of Wisconsin-Madison's College of Letters & Science Communications Team, I was interviewed about my experience as a woman in computer science and my perspective on diversity in the tech field. It was a wonderful experience, and I was delighted to read the article when it was released. Check it out here.
I studied abroad during spring semester of 2017 in Madrid, Spain. While abroad, my goals were to become confident in my conversational abilities and immerse myself in a culture different from mine. I believe this experience gave me a new and more global perspective of the world, and I look forward to applying what I’ve learned abroad in a professional or academic setting. To see what I was up to for the almost six months I was in Spain, check out my blog!
Through my study abroad program, I was matched with a family living in Madrid looking for a college student to tutor their children in English. Each week, I used workbook materials, activities, and games to help both children improve in a way that was suited to their needs: the older child was preparing to take the First Certificate in English exam and the younger child was learning basic concepts in the language. Not only was this a great tutoring experience, but I also got a glimpse of what family life in Madrid is like.
I served as a tutor for the Computer Sciences Learning Center on campus, where I help students taking introductory programming courses with homework and programming assignments. I looked forward to my tutoring sessions each week. There were always new and challenging problems to solve, and I found that teaching others helped to make me a better programmer.
I was a facilitator for the newly-formed Girls Who Code club on campus, working with middle school girls on coding projects while building their confidence as young women in Computer Science. Our goal was to empower our students by teaching them new skills and opening their minds up to careers that they may have not previously considered. Until my freshman year of college, I had never programmed before. I wish I had the exposure to CS earlier in my life, so giving this opportunity to other young women was very important to me.
For the past two years, I have had the pleasure of volunteering as a group leader for the Expanding Your Horizons conference in Madison. Both years, I worked with a group of sixth and seventh grade girls during the day-long conference. We went to workshops around campus, led by local professionals in STEM fields, all women. It was a wonderful experience to see the young women in my group engaged in the sciences and inspired by female leaders in their field. In 2018, I plan to be a presenter at the conference for the first time, where I will lead three sections of a computer science-related activity to the girls.
I love working with students and I love teaching. Women and minorities are extremely underrepresented in the field of Computer Science, and I am passionate about being a force to change this. Diversity in CS benefits everyone: people with different backgrounds and experiences bring fresh perspectives to the table in terms of problem-solving and innovation. I believe that being a woman and having the ability to speak Spanish will make me a great candidate to provide outreach to these underrepresented groups and help Computer Science to be more inclusive.
I am lucky to have had the opportunity to work in the Human-Computer Interaction Lab on campus. I learned new skills, such as how to operate a 3D printer, but I also got a glimpse of what a research laboratory looks like. I was exposed to new technologies which have brought me to think about so many more ideas about how technology can make a positive impact on people’s lives.
During my sophomore year, I worked at the HSX lab in Engineering Hall to update the lab’s website. I implemented a system so that researchers could easily share links to their publications to colleagues. I learned a lot about the limitations of the required WordPress template provided by the College of Engineering and I was challenged to find effective work-arounds to fit the needs of the laboratory.
I am hoping to be able to use both of my specializations in my career. Although I’m not yet sure exactly how I will do this, I will continue my education in graduate school to further my knowledge about CS and to form my course of action on how I will accomplish my goals of making CS more open to all and improving lives with technology. I stayed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to pursue an M.S. in Computer Science beginning in Fall 2018. I could not be more thrilled!
For more details on my experience, check out my profile on LinkedIn.