As a child, I was always interested in learning. In addition to the Nancy Drew and Calvin and Hobbes books that everyone else loved, I gravitated towards the giant white Dorling-Kindersley reference books about all sorts of topics, from Ancient Rome to geology. My general fascination with knowledge quickly narrowed into biology after a particularly fascinating lesson in the sixth grade about the organelles of a eukaryotic cell. For the rest of my pre-college career, I craved biology, and was absolutely certain that I was destined to be a doctor.
This certainty was put to the test when I started Swarthmore College, an academically-rigorous liberal arts school in Pennsylvania known for being exceedingly difficult. After several years of biology, chemistry, and physics, I had completed my pre-med requirements. However, my intellectual curiosity in these topics had dwindled, and my GPA and confidence took quite the beating. I was miserable, and felt completely lost amongst my friends who were excitedly chattering about Diels-Alder mechanisms and phylogenetic trees.
Then, I enrolled in a class completely outside of my usual realm: Introduction to Computer Science. After some initial frustration with navigating UNIX, Emacs, and Vim, I wrote a simple Python program that asked for the user's name, then said hello to the user. The moment I finished the program, everything changed. I felt a sense of excitement that I had not experienced since I was a kid, and I could not get enough of coding. I discovered how to access the assignments before professors posted them, and finished my assignments days before most of my peers. When I learned about higher-level concepts like data structures, algorithms, database systems, artificial intelligence, and bioinformatics, I became completely enthralled with the endless possibilities of tech. In addition to re-kindling my love of learning, I built up my intellectual pride. Finally, after 20 years of floating on a sea of uncertainty, I had found my dock: computer science.
I am incredibly excited to apply my knowledge from Swarthmore to solve real-world problems, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for me.