Prior to entering university, I grew up in Piedmont, CA, a mile-wide city across the bay from San Francisco. There I attended Piedmont public schools for grades K–12.
I was raised primarily by a health and public policy professor and a civically-engaged attorney, bestowing upon me an early penchant for politics. Indeed many of the projects I’ve worked on over the years and all of the internships I’ve completed have been either directly or indirectly motivated by socio-political problems.
As a precocious teenager who was full of ideas and hungry to learn, I found myself facing a significant hurdle. Because of my young age, I did not have the credibility I needed to work on big ideas and access the experiences I wanted. I landed on software development as the most accessible medium for me to build things that solve problems (political and otherwise). By collaborating over the internet, I eliminated all age barriers that stood in my way. After all, on the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.
Throughout high school, I spent much of my free time teaching myself how to write software. I went to dozens of hackathons, collaborated with developers and designers from around the world on projects we dreamed up, and segfaulted my way into some moderate level of understanding. Most importantly, I gained the ability to take the ideas in my head and cobble together a functional problem-solving product. I was hooked.
Starting my Sophomore year in high school, I sought out internship opportunities to learn more about building software on teams, managing products, and running companies. I was fortunate to learn from the great teams at Uber and Change.org while interning in high school. I went on to learn from the founders at Politify, the fellows at The Harvard Kennedy School, the journalists at FiveThirtyEight, and the product team at Oscar while working at each between university terms.
Now, I’m in my final year of university. College has afforded me the opportunity to formally study computer science and mathematics, and has turned me on to discrete maths and related philosophy, which I’ve grown to love. When deciding where to enroll, I was drawn to the University of Washington in large part because of its great computer science and statistics programs. However, one of the major factors contributing to my decision to enroll at UW was Professor Jeffrey Heer’s Interactive Data Lab, which had just recently moved to the UW from Stanford. Since the middle of Sophomore year, I’ve been working in his lab as an undergraduate research assistant and helping to build the next generation of data visualization tools.