CSpotlight: Creativity and Coding

Why did you choose to pursue a degree in computer science specifically at the University of Minnesota?

I came into college completely undecided. If you would’ve asked me before starting at the University of Minnesota, I would have told you that computer science was the very last major I would have chosen. My freshman year, I lived in the Honors Residential Community Living Learning Community in Middlebrook Hall with a bunch of computer science majors. They were all taking CSCI 1133 with Nathan Taylor and they all said really good things about the class. I’d done a bunch of math in high school and I always liked math, so I kind of knew that there was a math side to computer science that I would probably like. I was always worried that I wasn’t tech-savvy enough to be a computer science major and I’ve definitely gotten a lot better since joining the program. I think I was a little intimidated because I had no experience, so they told me to take the class and I fell in love with the course. So, I kept taking more and more computer science classes and realized I really did like it.

How did you become interested in computer science? What are your specific interests within the field?

I lived with a bunch of computer science majors which is how I became interested in it. I also think in college, you’re doing a lot more things with technology and that made me more interested as well. In terms of specific computer science interests, I’ve always been interested in the security aspect of the field because I’ve heard there’s some super interesting innovations there and a lot of really interesting jobs. I also like anything where you can merge creativity and computer science. I’m always looking for ways to use aspects of my theatre degree in my computer science degree.

Congratulations on earning the Computer Science & Engineering Access Scholarship scholarship! How will this scholarship impact your academic and extracurricular work?

It’ll mean the world because education is very expensive and as someone who didn’t come from a high-income family and didn’t know if they were going to be able to afford college, it has let me be able to explore some of my other interests without having to pursue a campus job. To take the course load that I’m taking now, I wouldn’t have been able to work a job. So, because of the scholarship, I’m able to be a full-time student, pursue two degrees, not overstress myself and focus on my academics.

Are you involved in any student groups? What inspired you to get involved?

I am currently in Chi Omega sorority. I’m the facilities director, so I run the entire house. I also just started a position as a peer representative on the University’s Theatre Arts & Dance Peer Representatives Board. I got involved with that because I wanted to be more involved in the theatre community as well. And then, the past four semesters, I have been in the Minnesota Swim Club. I love being involved because I love academics but I also love getting the opportunity to explore other facets of college, which is why I wanted to come to a big university.

What do you hope to contribute to the computer science community at the University?

I hope to contribute my creative perspective from theatre arts and a non-male perspective to the department. I also identify as queer, so contributing a queer perspective as well because there are very few queer female perspectives in computer science right now. I also hope to give my perspective as someone who didn’t start coding when they were really young and got into it at a later time.

What advice do you have for incoming computer science students?

Try new computer science classes and don’t let imposter syndrome get you down. I struggled with this a lot. I’ve gotten an “A” in every computer science class I’ve taken, but I go into every class thinking I’m a failure and that I’m going to drop after two weeks. Even when I go into a new semester, I constantly find myself doubting myself and every time I prove myself wrong. So I would say to try it, use your resources, and go to a ton of office hours.

What are your plans after graduation?

I want to move out to the east coast and get some type of computer science job. I’ve always wanted to live on the east coast. Then, I would pursue theatre more and try to get that integrated into my life as well because I love performing and I love all aspects of theater.

Are there any additional experiences you did that you would like to highlight in the article?

Don’t be afraid to do an arts major with a computer science major. For me, it was very liberating because I declared computer science first, but I realized that while I love computer science, I didn’t want to give up my creative passions. I think it can bring a different sense to your college experience and can make you stand out in unique ways.