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Students

Vanessa Villa is fluent in gummy bears

We were won over instantly by Vanessa’s versatile outfits – somehow grunge and chic at the same time? Read on to hear about how gummy bears help her program, and the ways she disconnects from the world.

Tell us a little about you.

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I’m entering my last quarter at California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, majoring in Computer Engineering. My small hometown of Fillmore, CA is agriculture based so I wasn’t really exposed to tech until I reached college. The family thought that since I was able to set up computers, I must be some sort of tech genius…That isn’t exactly how things worked out the first time I stepped into class. The introduction course was in robotics in C and it wasn’t till about the third project that things started to click. After that, every time I programmed I always did it with gummy bears or with friends and snacks.

One positive of coming from a town that was primarily Mexican is it did allow me to develop a deeper understanding of my heritage, animal/plant based agriculture, and speak Spanish fluently. Once, I was asked to give a speech to honor the high school AP Spanish teacher, Ms. Juarez, and had to present it in English and Spanish. She also was my first introduction to Salsa dancing. Little did she know I would later become dance obsessed in college. I love to dance; Salsa, Tango, Country Line and many others due to joining the Cal Poly Ballroom Team. This may explain my recent interest in sparkles.

Whenever things start getting busy in the quarter, I make sure to go out to the Rodeo Arena and take photographs, sketch, or just hanging out with the horses and cows. It is a space with little to no WiFi and a different perspective. Sometimes, that is exactly what a person needs to solve that coding bug.

Tell us about what you’re wearing.

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My first outfit is very versatile. I wear it for those days that I have a presentation and want to go dancing later. Its comfortable and edgy with just a little bit of class.

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My second outfit is more on the daring side. I like to think that it’s fun and certainly the best for exploring around. You never know when you are going to need to twirl or run around.

How did your style evolve to what it is now?

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When I first started playing around with different styles, I knew that I had to be comfortable in what I was wearing. I liked to think of myself as a bit of a rebel sometimes and quickly fell in love with the alternative/punk look. I also loved the iconic and classic looks of Coco Chanel. Why not wear pearls with your black skinny jeans and acid washed top? Lately, I have been experimenting with brighter colors and I can’t wait to see how it goes.

I also can’t help but to have been influenced by my surroundings; I’ve become enamored with both steel toed cowgirl boots and just regular old riding boots. I always wear high tops when going out on an adventure. There is just something about them that means I feel invincible when wearing them.

Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?

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If your field punches you in the stomach (which it will…last minute assignments are the worst) , punch back and do it the way your gut tells you to – if that’s by eating gummy bears at a hackathon, cool! If it’s by wearing a cowgirl hat while you code, that’s cool too!

Get an internship, shadow a professional, explore all of the field and find out what interests you and what you are passionate about. I think it’s very important to try and figure out what you like and don’t like about the field early on. Have confidence in yourself and your abilities…you may surprise yourself.

What would you say is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?

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There was a project this past year where we had a client that wanted an app to count cell colonies in a petri dish. Between working on the problem with the assigned group and in a Computer Vision class, we made a kick ass algorithm that was better than anything currently available in the mobile app market. I really feel like that project gave us valuable experience in designing a product from start to finish for a client.

This was the first time that I had worked with these people. I had seen them in classes but never really interacted with them. It was really exciting to know that we were able to get this done even while coordinating around other classes. By managing ourselves in a way we were comfortable with, we were able to become friends and get a good portion of our project done. We got really close as a group and still are – it created a support system in my major that I didn’t even know I was missing.

The algorithm was a great product but the experience and bonds created is what I value more.

Anything else you’d like to share with the audience?

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Don’t worry about what other people think and do what makes you happy!

At school I’m the unhappiest person when I’m stuck in my room by myself. My professors condemned collaboration in the introductory classes so that everyone would learn the material, but I do my best work in the computer lab. I need to goof off and have people around me to eat snacks with or talk about puppies and kittens.

Everybody has a different comfort setting and different interests, so acknowledge those and find ways to work around these situations.

What is the best way (if any) for people to follow you on social media?

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You can find Vanessa on Facebook or Instagram :)

 

Students

Julia Wu is handy with a handbag

The lovely Julia Wu turned out to be the embodiment of graceful elegance when we met her at Microsoft during her internship. She was bubbling over with cool projects to talk about, and we can’t wait for you to read on and see them!

Tell us a little about you.

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I’m a senior at Brown University studying Computer Science and Economics. I’ve interned at Microsoft and at a Brazilian IT firm, and I’m intrigued by technology that can augment the knowledge of people and businesses.

I’m passionate about creating things outside of the classroom – in the past, I’ve shared my rendition of an intelligent handbag with the global CFO of Chanel, and collaborated on a web application that retrieved on-campus events with free food so that my classmates could save time with Ctrl+F “free food” on Brown’s events calendar.

Tell us about what you’re wearing.

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In this first outfit I’m wearing an orange Versace dress that my mother gave me (right, mom?). I love the brightness of its color, and I can create a more or less fancier look depending on the shoes I pair it with. Right now I’m wearing a pair of nude heels by Christian Louboutin, and I appreciate how comfortable and sleek they are. To finish the look, I’m holding a white clutch with shiny jewels.

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I love this chiffon blouse from Forever 21 I’m wearing in my second outfit—I can wear it with shorts, jeans or pencil skirts. I’ve worn it to conferences as well as social outings, and I love the detail on the sleeves. I’m also wearing a pair of navy blue shorts I bought in a small city in China, along with sparkly Versace heels that are actually pretty hard to walk in—I’m not very graceful in them.

How did your style evolve to what it is now?

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My mother is an entrepreneur with her own brand for travel goods. She’s extremely chic and loves dressing fancy with colorful and shiny pieces. She’s a huge fan of classic designers, and we happen to be very similar sizes so we often share clothes – although I’d say that I’m not as bold with the colors and shine as she is.

I like to dress well because it helps me feel more ‘legit’ both in and outside of the office/classroom. I would say that my style is classy and delicate; I sometimes seek inspiration from fashion bloggers Jessica Ricks and Chiara Ferragni. I also love Blake Lively’s style.

Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?

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  • Ask for feedback as much as you can, and don’t let either the constructive or the negative feedback discourage you.
  • Focus on what you want, and stay focused when you’re working towards it. You have to be willing to jump on rocket ships, but also to say no to things that don’t matter as much (because there may be many shiny opportunities).
  • A quote I really like, but not sure who the author is: “The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullsh*t story you keep telling yourself.”

What would you say is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?

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About a year ago, I began working on an intelligent handbag with a couple other women in tech. I found a wearables hackathon online and thought, “I’ve never heard of this but I’m gonna go.” It was before the sign-ups opened, so I just e-mailed the organizers saying I was going. So one weekend last fall, my teammate and I took a bus to New York City and spent Friday night tinkering with firmware we’ve never touched before and then slept on the floor at the hackathon. The development also led to learning about iOS development, web design, writing business plans and patent applications.

Fast forward a few months, my teammate and I are sleeping on buses to get to Carnegie Mellon University from Brown, in order to pitch as finalists at a venture competition. I’m proud of this project because it helped me get a sense of how challenging and fulfilling it is to build a technical product and take it forward completely independently.

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Wow, we can’t for things like Julia’s handbag to become a reality (we hope they’re half as stylish as the ones she brought with her for our shoot!)

Love always,

Dona & Beth

Students

Alex Kearney shows us the dapper side of practical

Beth met Alex when she was on a trip to Edinburgh with Microsoft – Alex’s style is both unique and deliberate, which is always a joy to hear about. We traipsed around Edinburgh as the weather changed from sunny to blustery and drizzly; and her outfit performed exactly as well as she said it would! (Unlike Beth’s….).

Tell us a little about you.

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Part way through high school my parents wanted me to get a job. I’d just finished a computer science class which prompted me to look at working as a programmer. My local university happened to have research-based internships available to high school students, which gave me a chance to try out some of the things I’d been learning in school.

I had done First Lego League as a kid—a competitive robotics competition using Lego—so I was put with a group that was working with robots: the Reinforcement Learning and Artificial Intelligence lab. For six weeks I sat in a pen full of robots, making them learn from interacting with the world around them.

After the internship was finished I decided Machine Learning was pretty neat, and maybe I didn’t really want to study economics in university after all. I wanted to continue playing with AI, so I left Canada to study Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Even though I moved away, I come home every summer and work on biomedical robotics at the University of Alberta.

Basically, I’m a computer scientist now because my parents told me to get a job.

Tell us about what you’re wearing.

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The weather in Scotland is variable. One minute it could be a beautiful day, the next you could be struggling through gale force winds. Dressing for the elements is your number one priority. To keep cozy, I’m wearing a wool peacoat from Calvin Klein, Eddie Bauer Jeans, and a pair of obscenely comfortable Green Doc Marten 1910s. They’re all practical student-staples for traipsing across the city.

When you’re limited by weather, prints and patterns can make practical outfits more interesting. I’m wearing lord and Taylor blue button down and an outrageously bright Au Jour La Jour jumper. The sweatshirt is one of my prized finds: It’s funky and unique. The combination of sunshine-yellow and printed hyenas makes this my favorite piece.

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Continuing with weather considerations, in my second outfit I’m Layering. To keep the chill off I’m wearing a checked Uniqulo flannel shirt and an Eddie Bauer vest. The best part of that vest? It has pockets: so many pockets. Underneath, I’m wearing an Apollo 13 printed tee I got on a visit to the Kennedy Space Centre. Just in case the weather gets a bit testy, I’ve brought a scarf along that I nicked from a family member.

How did your style evolve to what it is now?

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Western Canadian style can be described as “whatever’s appropriate for the weather”: it’s very
Practical. What you wear has to withstand the elements, whether that’s protection for wading
through snowdrifts at forty-below, or something to keep cool during heatwaves. What you’re wearing has to fit your environment.

Weather also plays a large role in Scottish style, but it’s a touch less casual than Canadian. I try to balance the two by mixing casual and formal pieces.

Do you have any style icons or favorite brands?

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I’ve been enjoying the androgynous trend in mainstream fashion. My favorite manifestation of this is Esther Quek; an authority on all things menswear and fashion director at The Rake. She effortlessly blends street-style with spectacular suits. Not only that, but her command of structure, wild prints, and popping colours is unparalleled. She has a fresh street-wear meets dandy style which you don’t often see.

Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?

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There’s no harm in exploring tech to see if you like it: give it a try. Check out your local community, hit up a few meetups, find a hacker-space, talk to people. If there’s anything tech people love to do, it’s help people that want to get started.

f you’re wary of heading out to events, the internet is your friend. Asking questions with a few well placed hashtags on twitter will garner an outpouring of support and advice. That’s how I started learning about interaction design.

What would you say is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?

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Over the past few years, I’ve spent my summers working with myoelectric prosthetics—or bionic limbs. When someone has an amputation, they have the option of replacing their missing limb with a robotic prosthesis. I’ve worked on ways of improving control of these limbs by developing methods of anticipating user control signals. If the arm can anticipate a user’s intentions, it can partially take control, improving an amputee’s speed at completing tasks.

Watching an amputee wear a limb made by a team I was working with was incredible. A device I contributed code and research to was a literal extension of a person: a bionic replacement for their biological limb. It’s the ultimate example of wearable tech.

Are there any misconceptions about STEM fields that you’d like to clear up?

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People often seem to be wary of tech-related geekery; they avoid it because they don’t want to associate with its basement-dwelling anti-social stereotype: a very limited view of tech. Technology touches everything; its influence is far-reaching, impacting up and coming fields—like digital humanities—and established fields—such as medicine. STEM fields can be mixed and matched with anything you want to do. In that sense, STEM is the opposite of its reputation: it’s a liberating field with almost limitless opportunities.

What is the best way (if any) for people to follow you on social media?

I’ve got an indieweb blog, but I can be found on more traditional social media. My handle on most things is Kongaloosh, including twitter and instagram.

The work Alex is doing with bionic limbs is so fascinating – definitely follow her advice and ask (her) some questions on twitter if you’d like to learn more about it! Wearable fashion is fascinating to us, and we’re grateful to Alex for letting us showcase the more altruistic side of it :)

Love always,

Dona & Beth

Students

Leah Xu Shows Growth Mindset

Haha, when we met Leah, we knew she was a lady after our own hearts: loves the color yellow, augmented/mixed reality and believes that people in the STEM fields are incredibly supportive and will go out of their way to help newcomers?  Fibonacci Sequins has been incredible for making new friends and Leah is no exception. Read on to hear about this adventurous young woman’s next move:

Tell us a little about you.

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I’m constantly growing. Growth has been the core tenant of my mindset since I was young and I’m always trying to develop a few areas of myself at a time.

This summer, I’m traveling for three months. I started in cities that are familiar and filled with great friends: Seattle and San Francisco (+the Bay Area). I’ve interned in both places so it was amazing to catch up with my old teams and stay with some former roommates and friends.

I’m currently writing this from Rome, having just said goodbye to two friends that I’ve been traveling with for the last few weeks. I’m exploring by myself for the next month. I’ve never traveled alone for an extended time, but it’s freeing to learn how to do things by myself.  I’m ending my trip in China, where I will be meeting my mom. We’re going to Shanghai, which is a new city for me. I’m planning on growing a second stomach for the street food once I’m there.

I only started computer science in college, but I spent the entire time immersed in the tech world, and it’s been really nice to step back for a bit. I was a two-time intern at Microsoft and Seattle is still my favorite city in the summer. The weather is perfect and there’s everything I could want in the city. Seattle turned me into an outdoors person. Running, hiking, and kayaking, I don’t do any of these activities at home in Maryland.

I just finished my degree Computer Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park, and in the fall I’m starting a new job in Stamford, Connecticut as a Product Manager at Bridgewater Associates. The people at the company are amazing and I’m really excited to learn from them.

Tell us about what you’re wearing.

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Today, I brought two different outfits with me.

A few months ago, I discovered my perfect pair of jeans; the Nico by Hudson Jeans. I love dark wash skinny jeans, I think they go with every outfit. But this pair also has the perfect amount of stretch to them so that they stay comfortable all day. Better yet, they don’t stretch out so they look as perfect at the end of the night as they did when I first put them on. I paired the jeans with a teal cami and a sheer sleeveless yellow blouse. I’m wearing nude pumps. I’ve had the heels for years and they remain one of my most comfortable pairs.  My purse is bright yellow. I love the color. It’s never dull and will always cheer me up, especially on a gray day. I wear a lot of bright yellow, my friend jokes it’s because I’m an extrovert and the color is eye-popping, upon reflection he might be a little correct.

My other outfit is a black floral dress: Nothing screams summer like a sundress. I grabbed the dress at a crazy end of the year sale at Urban Outfitters and paid close to nothing. I’m wearing a white cardigan. I like the contrast between the black dress and the white cardigan and it prevents me from freezing in the chilly air-conditioned office buildings. I’m wearing nude sandals with this outfit, bought with my freshman year roommate in D.C.

I always wear a watch. Despite being a technology enthusiast, I haven’t gotten into the smartwatch trend. I love that my watch can go years before I have to worry about the battery. It’s also great when I’m in a meeting or talking to someone one-on-one so I can keep track of the time without distracting myself from the conversation.

How did your style evolve to what it is now?

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Over the years I’ve learned how to dress better for my figure. I’m rather petite and it took me a while to figure out what outfits would enhance my stature. I used to like having a lot of clothes, but over time, I realized that I don’t like most of them so now I focus on just buying clothing that I love, rather than articles that are a great price. Maybe it’s just a part of growing up.

I wear a lot of mid-thigh to knee length dresses, which I find are much more comfortable than individual bottoms. I’ve also started to really love outerwear. Trenches, pea coats, and leather jackets are my staples throughout the spring, fall, and winter. I love heels but I’ve spent the last few years on a gigantic college campus so I default to flats. I make exceptions for boots, though

Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?

IMG_8067Try it. Technology is no longer just a niche industry, instead it has permeated every other aspect of the world. Being a good technologist now makes you more capable in every other discipline; The skills are almost universally transferable, so don’t turn away from a field with so much potential without giving it an honest attempt.

If you’re worried about culture fit, the STEM world is much closer and more tight-knit than the alienating reports that permeate the media. Although it’s not the most diverse community (yet!) as a whole, the people in these fields are incredibly supportive and will go out of their way to help newcomers. It’s one of the few fields that regularly gives its interns/new hires exciting and business critical projects that you can work on from Day 1.

What would you say is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?

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At Bitcamp, a hackathon hosted by my school, I created an Augmented Language Immersion System (ALIS) with my best friends, Kate Tolstaya and Brent Schlotfeldt. It’s really just a fancy way to say we hacked a Google Cardboard to do a live stream of the world and used MetaMind’s image recognition algorithms to identify objects and translate the words into a target language.

Augmented reality really excites me, as do languages and culture – I used to want to learn all of the world’s languages when I was younger. I’ve since shifted my focus to programming languages, but human languages still fascinate me.

I can’t wait until technology advances to the point where augmented reality becomes indispensable in the day to day – just imagine all the ways the world would be enhanced when information is deeply integrated into the world, rather than just a distracting notification.

What is the best way (if any) for people to follow you on social media?

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Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIn / GitHub / leahxu.com
We 100% believe in Lean’s vision that someday (soon!) Augmented/Mixed Reality will become an integral part of the world and will help make our lives better and richer–than than being a nerdy distraction. We hope she will let us join her in the journey to make that a reality!

Love,

Dona & Beth

Students

Jamie Westfall Answers the Great Question… Of Life, the Universe and Everything

Beth had the pleasure of meeting Jamie during a speaking engagement in Florida. She was immediately taken by this young woman’s brightly coloured outlook on life…and then discovered our favorite thing: a multi-hyphenate!  Read on to hear about how Jamie (LITERALLY) juggles her fascinating life. 

Tell us a little about you.

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My name is Jamie Westfall and I just finished my first year at the University of Florida. I’m majoring in computer engineering so that once I graduate I can contribute toward the complete automation of human life- I want the next generation to live in a world in which life isn’t treated as a competition, and everyone can spend their time on earth comfortably. I have decided to dedicate my career to helping achieve this as quickly as possible while simultaneously working to correct the environmental destruction our species has caused (and continues to cause).

I’ve always been really interested in ancient history and learning about the experiences humans have lived through in different time periods. For this reason, I’ve loved reading since I was a kid. Whether a book is factual, loosely based on history, or is completely imaginary, I love the feeling of being transported into a different world that reading can create. I’m particularly a fan of science fiction and fantasy- some of the authors I admire most are Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Isaac Asimov. I’m currently reading Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series and loving it. Part of the reason why I’m entering the field of computer engineering is that machinery and programming allows us to control our surroundings. It essentially feels like we are creating our own magic; with the wave of a hand we can procure soap, water, and hot air in restrooms now, to prevent the invisible spread of sickness. It’s pretty amazing how far we’ve come as a species in the past few centuries, and I want to do everything I can to take the process further.

I generally spend my free time reading, making art, and seeing bands perform. I also love going hiking and being outdoors; it’s an interesting concept that nature has the ability to appear so beautiful to us, even after we spend our entire lives here. During the school year most of my time is occupied with assignments, studying, and club activities – next year I’ll be an officer of three clubs at my university: Humanists on Campus, Women in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and UF Objects in Motion (a group that practices and performs circus tricks).

I’m excited to return to school in the fall, but for now I’m really enjoying the summer – I’m in Indiana for an internship with Cummins doing 3D design and analysis for engine parts. The specific division of the company I work in identifies issues with old models of parts and designs ways to refurbish them when broken so that they can be salvaged instead of replaced with new parts. It’s been an amazing experience so far, and I’ve definitely been enjoying getting to explore a different part of the country.

Describe yourself in one word

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“Average.” I mean, I have my own hobbies, personality traits, and style preferences, but then again, so does everyone else. My characteristics aren’t unique to me, I believe that we mostly become a reflection of the people and things around us. However, we do have the ability to filter through it all and attempt to make sense of it in our own ways.

I draw many aspects of my personal philosophy from absurdism. I try my best to enjoy life and make life enjoyable for others; I relish ridiculousness and have turned myself into a bit of a spectacle (over the past five years, my hair has been every color of the rainbow). I’m also a member of UF’s circus tricks club—this past semester I learned how to ride a five-foot-tall unicycle and how to juggle rings and clubs (you can buy holographic ones!), among various other juggling tricks. Making a fool out of myself can be a sort of catharsis for me, while also giving other people something to laugh at.

Tell us about what you’re wearing.

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I like clothing that has character, which is why I enjoy customizing mine in my free time. Whenever something rips or gets worn out, I sew/glue it back together, add a patch, or make more rips so that the rest of the clothing item matches. In this manner, I have altered my black long sleeved shirt, pair of jeans, backpack, tights, creepers, red flannel shirt, and vans that I’m wearing in the photos.

First outfit: My style preferences through the years tend to be influenced by the music genres I primarily listen to at the time, yet as with my music taste, I incorporate the new into the old rather than replacing it. Recently I’ve been listening to ska music more than anything, but I still love the genres I primarily listened to in high school (mainly a variety of rock, punk, and metal), and my wardrobe reflects it. The shoes are Mondo Creepers, the backpack is by Earth Bound Trading,  jeans from American Eagle and the striped shirts are thrifted.

Second outfit: I got these pants at a small Himalayan shop in St. Petersburg, Florida. They’re insanely comfortable, it feels like wearing a cloud around your legs. The great thing about this outfit is that it can double as pajamas, which is pretty convenient for taking naps. My hat is practically a wearable pillow and has the added bonus of making me feel like some sort of elf. The shoes are Vans and the flannel and sunglasses are thrifted.

How did your style evolve to what it is now?

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I love wearing bright colors and mixed patterns. To me, the goal of fashion should not be to turn ourselves into some untouchable image of perfection, but rather to give other people a reason to come up and talk to us. Projecting your personality onto your clothing makes it much easier for this to happen; complimenting or asking about someone’s outfit is an easy doorway to starting a conversation.

My current style is an accumulation of all of the different stylistic phases I’ve gone through. As my taste changes, rather than buying a new wardrobe and donating the old clothes, I prefer to rework clothing items and find new ways for them to be incorporated into my current style. I try to avoid buying a lot of new clothing. In America we collectively have this notion that clothing should stay in our lives for a couple of years and then be disposed of to make way for the new. This fast-paced system is wasteful, unnecessary, and it comes at the expense of the environment. And with cheap clothing comes the need for cheap labor— often in underdeveloped countries people in clothing factories work for cents per hour in inhumane conditions to create our seasonal trends which will be fashionably “out” after another few months. Instead of continuing this cycle, I think that if you still like an item of clothing, it’s worth trying to rework it into something new when it gets worn out instead of getting rid of it.

Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?

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My advice is: don’t worry about it. You have plenty of time to figure out what you want to do in college. And don’t be afraid to change majors—if you realize you don’t enjoy STEM jobs, find something that you do enjoy. Let your interests come first and you’ll find a way to turn them into a career.

What would you say is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?

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I haven’t done anything particularly remarkable with my life, especially compared to all of the incredible people featured in this blog. Nevertheless, I try to enact change on a small level through my everyday life. I’m a vegetarian because factory farming results in horrific conditions for both the animals and factory workers alike. In our current system, the quality of life of factory workers is exploited for the financial gain of the few and the collective satisfaction of our taste buds. It’s not something we like to think about, but there are people spending 10+ hours a day performing repetitive and often hazardous labor being denied bathroom breaks and yet are still struggling to financially support their families because having a menial job is better than having no job. Too often I’ve found that fortunate people seem to think that their “success” in life (i.e, money) is gained entirely due to their own hard work and wit, rather than primarily an incredibly lucky combination of being born with intelligence and having access to resources; only around 10% of the global population has graduated from or is currently attending a college. I believe that globalizing higher education and equalizing the quality of life for all people should be a priority. This is the main reason I feel drawn to a career in computer engineering; full automation of work is necessary in order to realize this goal. The substitution of human labor with machines has been and will continue to be a challenging transition. Instead of meeting it with opposition, we need to recognize that it signifies a momentous achievement of mankind as a whole, and embrace the changes that are about to take place, beginning with shorter working hours and a shift in types of available jobs.

While myself boycotting meat and buying eggs and cheese only from local free-range farms is obviously not going to singlehandedly affect the industry, vegetarianism as a worldwide movement will result in change- however, this alone is not enough to reverse the damage that humans have inflicted upon the earth. In addition to the human and animal costs, factory farming has had disastrous effects on on the environment- deforestation, the massive production of methane, and chemical runoff are not going to disappear unless we become proactive in repairing the climate and preventing further change. I had the incredible fortune of getting to attend a speech given by Jane Goodall this past year, and it’s truly inspiring to me how even at the age of 82 she continues to dedicate her entire life to enacting social and environmental change. In my own life so far, I feel as though I haven’t done anything significant enough to contribute, however, small changes in routine on a grand scale can have a tremendous impact. Using cloth bags, reusable water bottles, and reusable containers instead of disposable plastic are a few ways waste can be effortlessly be reduced. I also make sure to collect and recycle other materials like glass, metals, and paper. As my career develops, I hope to improve the lives of humans while simultaneously working to counteract the negative environmental impact we have on the planet.

And there you have it. We feel so blessed to be able to meet fascinating people like Jamie, who are actively trying to use tech to make the world a better place. That’s what we’re all about at Fibonacci Sequins and we hope to continue to meet more and more of you. If you are, or know, people who should be featured, please do get in touch!

Love,

Dona & Beth

Students

Jill Jermyn – From Concerts to Coding

We met Jill during her Microsoft internship last summer (gosh it’s been a while) – we were delighted that she’d taken the initiative to bring props to the shoot! Dona was (of course) instantly drawn to Jill because of her beautiful writing accessories.

Tell us a little about you.

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I am a violinist-turned-engineer from New York. My first career was in music, and I played lots of concerts in my lifetime. I decided to study something new for fun 5 years ago, and it unexpectedly turned into my second career. Now I’m working on my PhD in Computer Science at Columbia University, where I study network security.

Tell us about what you’re wearing.

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Computer Science has enabled me to travel to really fun places, and everything I’m wearing here is part of a collection of things that I obtained during my travels.

I bought the dress in a small shop I found in Florence, Italy. It was a special occasion for me because the man who made the dress was one of the first people I had a long conversation with in Italian during my trip. All of his clothing is designed and made by hand with Italian fabrics, one piece per design. It was really fascinating to hear about all of his ideas and inspirations for the styles. The dress I’m wearing is one of his modern designs.

How did your style evolve to what it is now?

IMG_8822I grew up in a family of artists and was always taught to make my appearance and lifestyle as artistic as my work. I believe that it is important to be surrounded at all times by objects that promote inspiration and artistic thought.

This is why I include many unique objects, in addition to my clothing, as part of my style. I always write with a fountain pen (this one is from Torino, Italy) on paper that I’ve collected from various cities (this pad holder is from Gubbio, Italy with paper from Alsace, France).

The mug was hand painted in a small city called Deruta in Umbria, Italy, where I met many fine artisans who inspire me every day. My shoes are from Spain, and the earrings are from a jewelry maker that I admire very much in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?

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I would strongly encourage it. I would also suggest that you speak to as many professionals in the field as possible to find out about what they do. I think a big part of the reason why I didn’t pursue a STEM field as my first career was that I didn’t know what type of career it could lead to.

What would you say is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?

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I can’t pick just one, but something that I feel happy with was a model of the LTE cellular network that I built for simulating attacks. I designed and implemented a scalable system of the network and ran some really cool large-scale attacks. I was proud of it because I built the whole thing myself and was pleased by the engineering and architecture of the final product.

Anything else you’d like to share with the audience?

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Remember to take other people’s advice as input, but your ultimate decisions should truly be your own.

What is the best way (if any) for people to follow you on social media?

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I’m not overly active on social media, but you can find me on Facebook and LinkedIn.

It’s not every day you meet a violinist-turned-engineer, and we’re honored to have had the opportunity to interview such a fascinating young woman!

Have the best weekend you guys!

xoxo

Dona & Beth

Students

Cassie Bub’s Boots Were Meant For Walking

We had the pleasure of meeting Cassie Bub when she was an intern and immediately we knew what we were going to make her do for her photos…I mean, let’s be real, how often are you going to meet a computer scientist + musician + GYMNAST!  We managed to catch this feisty multi-hyphenate in a net and insisted she tell us all the things. 

Tell us a little about you.

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I am a rising junior at Texas A&M University majoring in Computer Science with Minors in Math and Neuroscience. I also spent last summer as an Explorer Intern at Microsoft working on Bing answers, and will be returning this summer. I fell in love with the uniqueness that is computer science in high school, and that feeling has only increased throughout my years in college. It continues to astound me just how complex and powerful computers are.

In my free time I play flute in the Wind Symphony at A&M, and have gotten some amazing opportunities to travel with them. Music is one of the few things that can reach out and transcend cultural differences so easily. We played in Ireland last summer! It’s an awesome feeling playing a concert in another country and watching the crowd really get into what you’re playing, despite the fact that you are of different nationalities.

Gymnastics is another big component in my life, as I have been involved in the sport since I was three. I stopped doing gymnastics right before high school, thinking I was done forever, but it kept calling out to me. In college I got back into it, and am now on the Texas A&M gymnastics team where I have met some of the loveliest people. It’s unreal competing again, and while it’s been tough, it is so worth it to do the sport that I love again.

Tell us about what you’re wearing.

I’m a little obsessed with lacy dresses and own way, way too many. This maroon dress is one of my favorites as I love how it is so simple and light. The earrings with this outfit compliment the simplicity of the dress as they are quite ornate. I found these in a tiny shop in Ireland last summer and couldn’t resist the lure of the gorgeous gold design with the tiny shining jewels.

Who doesn’t like leggings?! They are incredibly comfy and can be dressed way up or way down. I paired the tight leggings with a flowing top which is a bright and fun shade of teal. The earrings with this outfit are my go-to “fancy” earrings as they really catch light due to their smooth silver appearance.

The favorite thing about my closet though are my black combat boots. If you can’t tell by their worn out appearance I wear them all the time. They are incredibly sturdy but stylish at the same time! I love them!

How did your style evolve to what it is now?

In high school I was notorious for my lace cami under a plain v-neck top paired with jeans and Vans. I didn’t feel comfortable branching out at all. I found something I was used to and stuck with it.

Since then I have worked to expand my closet and find clothes that I wasn’t just comfortable in, but clothes that I loved and made me feel confident! I still like more of a classic, simple look, but it is a far cry from my days of basically the exact same outfit.

It’s scary to put yourself out there, whether that’s a new outfit or as simple as saying hi to someone new, but I believe that shouldn’t hold you back. Stay true to what you want to wear!

Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?

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One of the cool things about the field as it is evolving now, is that is incredibly low-cost to you to get involved. There is still a learning curve to get started, but there are so many resources online that are free and make it easy to learn. If you really like something in the STEM field utilize these resources that people have created for you! There is so much information out there, and it’s never to late to start!

I was intimidated by the people who said they had been coding for years and knew so many languages already, but I also know a lot of people who are just like me and didn’t really know they wanted to get into the STEM field until college.

What would you say is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?

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This past summer I worked on Bing answers and was able to incorporate my love for music into something really cool! I created a guitar tuner, and so far it seems like people are really liking it!

What is the best way (if any) for people to follow you on social media?

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Twitter & Instagram :)

We so appreciated Cassie being willingness to do a whimsical photoshoot with us with some of her best gymnastics tricks. We also love her badass time-management skills! “Balancing” (haha) the A&M gymnastics team and the symphony WHILE nailing a CS degree? That’s skillz. 

Thank you Cassie for giving us a peek into your life.  

Love,

Dona & Beth

Students

Erin Winick Makes It Work

THERE IS ANOTHER ENGINEER/FASHION DESIGNER/WRITER in the world!  Beth had the pleasure of meeting Erin Winick during a talk she was invited to give in Florida as a guest of our former FibSeq star, Ming Yang.

Immediately, Beth realized she needed to profile this brilliantly creative maker on all of the things….

Tell us a little about you.

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I am a 4th year mechanical engineering student at the University of Florida and the founder of Sci Chic. At Sci Chic we used advanced technologies, like 3D printing and laser cutting, to make customizable science and engineering inspired jewelry and accessories. All of our products are also paired with science descriptions to help spread science literacy.

I love 3D printing, sewing and working with my hands (YES!!!!!). I even sew and create costumes in my free time (WHAT?!!!). I am a huge proponent of the maker revolution and love encouraging other to make as well. This is largely what inspired the creation of Sci Chic.

You can also find me hiking, reading, watching Project Runway (are you my soulmate, Erin?) or listening to Bruce Springsteen or musical cast albums. The Hamilton and In The Heights cast albums are currently on repeat on my phone

Tell us about what you’re wearing.

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I am definitely a budget shopper and snatch up deals where I can find them. My trench coat is a classic from Banana Republic, but I actually got it at Goodwill for $15. My black flower sweater is from Ann Taylor which I also got on sale. I love Ann Taylor and Loft because of how simple and elegant their pieces look. My skinny jeans and boots are from Target, where I am definitely a loyal shopper as well.

I actually designed and sewed my blue galaxy dress. The galaxy fabric is from Joann Fabrics and really inspired me when I saw it. I made the whole dress in one weekend (that’s some mad skills–geez) and originally wore it for the launch of Sci Chic. I love learning new sewing techniques and showing off the beauty of science in my clothes. The black heels paired with it are from Rack Room Shoes.

All of my jewelry is by Sci Chic. The DNA Necklace and Suspension Bridge Ring are 3D printed in bronze steel. It often surprises people that you can 3D print metal, but you can get some amazing results! The white Small Atom Necklace and Blue Moon Phase Earrings are both laser cut from acrylic on a CO2 laser. Sci Chic offers all of these pieces in a variety of options on our website so you can customize them to what you want.

How did your style evolve to what it is now?

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I used to not really pay much attention to my clothes and my fashion in high school, but as I started college I wanted to make a good impression on the people I meet and interact with and decided to step-up my fashion game a bit.

When I started watching Project Runway, I slowly felt more encouraged to branch out to new styles.I love doing more layering and finding really versatile pieces I can wear with a lot of outfits. My style has become a greater mix of fun with professional; I am not afraid to rock some bolder patterns and pieces like the DNA necklace or galaxy patterned shoes.

Additionally, sewing my own pieces has given me complete freedom to make exactly what I want to wear. This has really allowed me to express myself through my clothes like never before.

Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?

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I am a huge proponent of the maker movement (a 1000x YES!). I believe so much of what STEM consists of is creativity and problem solving. If you are considering on of the STEM fields, get as much experience having fun with it and getting involved as early as you can. Get hands on experience making things or solving problems.

If you enjoy this, STEM is definitely the field for you. STEM is so much more than just working on cars and building bridges; it can be the gateway into almost any industry.

Do not limit yourself or be afraid to pave your own path.

What is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?

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Taking the leap and actually starting Sci Chic is definitely the thing I am proudest of doing. It took a lot for me to actually take the huge step of forming this company – it’s honestly really scary putting yourself and your idea out there. You face a lot of judgement in addition to adulation and your success or failure is very public.

However, I am so happy to have done it. The past 6 months that Sci Chic has been operating have given me some incredible experiences that I couldn’t have gotten any other way. I am so excited to see where it goes from here as we expand into new designs, more precious metal and into the retail market.

Are there any misconceptions about STEM fields that you’d like to clear up?

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It always bothers me when people expect engineers and scientists to be antisocial. To be honest, most of the best scientists and engineers are fantastic communicators. Being able to express yourself, your ideas and your creations to others is an extremely valuable skill and allows you to do well in the STEM fields. Personally I love writing, meeting new people and connecting with different groups of people.

I hope more people embrace this side of them – I think this will create a better public understanding of what engineers really do.

How do you see fashion and the STEM fields combining in the future?

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With wearable technology on the forefront of everyone’s minds I think science and engineering and going to become and increasing part of the fashion industry.

Obviously I am a huge fan of 3D printing. As 3D printing gets faster and cheaper I think more companies are going to take advantage of it. I love using it because it allows me to make the same piece of jewelry in both plastic and 14k gold. This type of customization is not something easily available out there to jewelry makers right now without 3D printing. I am also really excited by Electroloom, a company working on 3D printing fabrics.

I think in the next 10 years the people in the fashion industry that fully embrace technology are going to be the ones that win out.

Anything else you’d like to share with the audience?

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Do not be afraid to take an untraditional path. I never thought in a million years I would be able to combine my loves of fashion, 3D printing, making, writing, communication and engineering into one project, but somehow it worked out. There is something perfect out there for you. Do not stop until you find it.

What is the best way for people to follow you on social media?

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I’m most active on Sci Chic’s social media pages which you can find here:

Facebook/ Instagram / Twitter / Tumblr / Pinterest / Youtube

Snapchat: Scichic

You can also follow my personal social media: Twitter / Instagram

You tell ’em what’s up Erin! We, too, did not think there was a way to connect our loves for fashion, writing, communication and engineering together and yet…here we are, making friends everywhere we go and celebrating these amazing lives people are leading.   Go buy yourself some SciChic!

Love,

Dona & Beth

Students

Flor Albornoz

Dona and Beth are at //Build this week teaching creatives about holograms with the Holographic Academy. While downing copious amounts of coffee, they were reminded of fellow coffee addict Flor Albornoz who they met this summer. They loved Flor’s dedication to tech as well as dressing for her name. What? Read on!

Tell us a little about you.

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I moved to the US about 5 years ago from Lima, Peru (born and raised there) and I’m studying Electrical Engineering at Purdue University.

I am involved on campus in multiple ways – such as being the President of the IEEE Student Branch, Microsoft Ambassador and a tutor for the Minority Engineering Program. It’s important for me to be able to guide future engineering students, and help kindle their passion about STEM, and I am able to do that by being involved in these organizations.

Outside of school work and large amounts of caffeine doses, I rock climb and work out as a form of stress reliever. Lately, I have also been very into origami; I have mastered the “valley fold” just enough to be able to make an origami rocket and 3D animals.

Tell us about what you’re wearing.

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I’m wearing a butterfly/flower dress that I paired with black (golden heel) shoes. I purchased the dress recently and I am in love with how classy and fun it looks!  The shoes are from H&M, and they’re my favorite pair of heels by far; I love the detail in the heel and how it can match with any type of outfit – I’ve worn them to both formal and causal occasions. A pair of black heels truly is a woman’s best friend!

In Spanish, my name means flower so I always try my best to pair my clothes with bright flowery themes. There is no season that will stop me from wearing bright flower colors in a daily basis. It’s my way to try to balance out the weather and make each day a little happier.

How did your style evolve to what it is now?

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My style has DEFINITELY evolved the most in college. I used to wear long baggy shirts, sneakers and jeans –I was trying too hard to fit in as an engineering student. In a way, I had lost my personality and I wasn’t being true to myself. My outfits made me feel uncomfortable and it was when I joined a sorority full of other women engineers that I decided to embrace my feminine side. I began to experience with patterns and colored jeans. Soon enough, colored jeans became part of my signature style! Most of my colored pants range from pink to bright yellow.

After finding my clothing style, I started experimenting with makeup – which I was extremely bad at to start with. I usually go for a natural makeup; mascara, filled eyebrows and lip gloss are my to go for any occasion.

Recently, I have been experimenting wearing skirts with ankle booties. At first, I was extremely self conscious about it -what will the world think about my feminine features? OH, the horror!- but then I started owning my style. I realized that I don’t need to ask people permission for the way I dress (of course, as long as it is professional) but more than anything, the way I dress as a woman doesn’t affect my performance on a day to day life.

When I chatted with Dona about this topic, she made a good point that if I fake trying to fit in by being something I am not, then I am not bringing 100% of myself to the task I have been given whether that’s school or a job. Those words have made a lot of difference on how I see myself.

I love dressing up because it gives me a confidence boost. I live by the motto, “When you look good, you feel good and you do good.”

Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?

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Do it! I chose STEM because I wanted to facilitate the day to day lives of people. My major gives me the opportunity to make this possible by allowing me to see all the fields (medicine, consumer products, power and much more) where engineers are valued. A lot of people might not see it this way but engineers have a much closer connection for the betterment of humanity. Engineers put together tools that allow people to remain connected and explode their full potential.

Second, you can do ANYTHING. Really, you can do/be anything you want, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There’s this stigma that women in STEM break easily or aren’t able to “handle the work”. Please, do not listen to those possible. The only person who knows how far you can go in your career is yourself: you are the ones who set the goals and makes the plan to get there.

You will be surprised with how far you can go in this field by proving people wrong. I’ve been in positions where I have been told that I am not good enough for my major and maybe I should study something else; I never gave up on my goals. There are times where you have to be the one patting yourself on the back for the amazing work you do – Be confident.

Anything else you’d like to share with the audience?

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As we keep changing into different phases in life, it’s easy to put our well-being at the bottom of our to-do list. It’s easy to forget who we are because we try to hard to fit in with the rest. Don’t be afraid to show the world and yourself who you are. Don’t forget that you possess qualities that no other can provide and you also see the world in a different perspective that no one else will. Be bold. Say what you want to say. Do it with passion. Dream wide awake. You are a unique person who has tons to offer so don’t let anyone dull your spark. When times get tough, remember that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

What is the best way (if any) for people to follow you on social media?

IMG_0574You can find Flor on facebook.

We had such a lovely time shooting Flor – the evening summer lighting was perfect, her dress was so colorful and her shoes oh my gosh! We can’t say enough of a resounding ‘yes!’ about her attitude towards engineering’s relationship with humanity. We love that Flor is definitely not impostering and instead, relishing being her lovely, talented self. We can’t wait to see what she does next!

xoxo,

Beth and Dona

Students

Global Lisa Talks About the Most Creative Industry of All

Our 4th Edinburgh profile is Lisa Xie. Definitely the bubbliest of the bunch, Lisa was entirely in charge of showing Beth around the city while she was there last November – including gems like a Frankenstein-themed restaurant! We were fascinated by Lisa’s global background that spans Germany, Taiwan, Canada and the U.K and to hear about what brought her into computer science in the first place–creativity! 

Tell us a little about you.

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Heya, I’m Lisa. I’m studying Computer Science with a minor in Management Science at the University of Edinburgh in my second year. I grew up in Germany, but attended High School in Canada and Taiwan. I dropped out of my first degree of International Studies in the Netherlands after two months, as I couldn’t find any enjoyment at all in the courses I took and then found my calling when starting my degree in Computer Science.

Tell us about what you’re wearing.

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The first outfit is a combination of different red and pink tones. The pink hoodie is from Only, a white loose mandarin-style shirt from Forever 21 underneath and a color-blocked pink and purple scarf from my mother’s shop. The skirt is a floral print from H&M. My shoes are oxford style heels from a thrift shop.

For my second outfit I got the turtleneck knit dress from Zara. For one of the pictures I stole Harry’s overcoat.

Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?

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You don’t have to be a prodigy in Math to be able to make it in a STEM degree. You will be fine even if you haven’t started coding when you’re 12. You will be fine even if you haven’t taken a radio apart out and managed to put it back together when you’re just a child.

If you’re interested in science and want to learn about the world around you STEM is for you. It’s a very creative field – Computer Science especially – even though it’s really not known for this.

(Can we just make this paragraph into a poster and put it up in every HS in the world? KThx)

What would you say is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?

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I am teaching an evening course for girls who are students at my university but don’t study Computer Science. It’s the most rewarding time of my week when I get to see how excited the girls get about simple things like getting a website to display their names.

We’re on the second session of the course now and we had a lot of girls continue on from the first one we taught about WebDev to Python. A lot of them even brought friends to the new session which was really humbling to me.

Are there any misconceptions about STEM fields that you’d like to clear up?

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After being in a Humanities degree (for a short time I admit) and then changing to Computer Science I found that one has much more creative freedom in CS. Knowing how to program is really enabling in our digital world. It allows you to reach people and promote causes you’re passionate about.

Quite a few people I’ve met in my degree are proper nerds and love technology – however they’re always happy to explain and they’ve never made me feel stupid because I didn’t know as much as them about a topic. However, most have hobbies that lie outside technology so you don’t have to worry about not being able to find someone who shares your interest. Not all of us are complete technology geeks.

Anything else you’d like to share with the audience?

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I thought dropping out of a degree might be one of the worst decisions in my life. However, it turned out be the best thing that could happen to me. If you’re not enjoying what you’re doing now you probably won’t 10 years down the line.

I choose International Studies because I wasn’t sure what to do and it was a popular choice among my peers so I assumed it would be safest to go with the flow. Pretty early into my studies, I realized there were few people I could help if I stayed on this degree even in the long run. Technology however is becoming more and more important every day – there are great charity projects out there which use technology to try to raise people out of poverty by giving them access to the internet and tech skills.

What is the best way (if any) for people to follow you on social media?

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You will find my Facebook profile here – feel free to shoot me a message! My Snapchat handle is ‘rawkward’ I try to add interesting stories on there!

Taiwan, Canada, Germany, The Netherlands and now Edinburgh – what a crazy traveller! We think dropping out of a degree takes a lot of courage, and it’s awesome to see where it’s taken Lisa (in life, not just geographically :P). We can’t thank Lisa enough for taking the time to talk to us about creativity in STEM. That is the kind of diversity we need to ensure that the next generation of products we are building are truly inclusive and global, just like the lovely people we feature here on Fibonacci Sequins. 

Love,

Dona & Beth