inspiration · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Kathryn Hodge

You can’t please everyone, and you can’t make everyone like you.” – Katie Couric

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I’m originally from Sugar Land, TX, but right now, I’m in my junior year at Vassar College, majoring in computer science and minoring in film. Two years ago, I took my first computer science class on a whim. The class happened to fit into my schedule and I planned on studying math anyway so I thought it would be a good complementary course, but I honestly didn’t give it much thought. However, within the first few weeks of classes, I was smitten. Putting little bits of code together to print out data — to make something real happen — fascinated me and I wanted to keep programming even after the labs and classes were over. Today, I am still just as in love with computer science as I was two years ago. I am currently a computer science teaching assistant for Computer Science 102 and the co-founder of a new student-run organization called VC++, where designers, programmers, and entrepreneurs come together to create things they are passionate about. I am also an avid tapper in Vassar’s only tap dance group, OnTap, and I spin fire poi in a circus troupe called the Barefoot Monkeys. This semester I’m taking a course called Intro to Stagecraft and I got to saw wood with an intense power saw today!

Favorite website / app:
Netflix! Because who doesn’t love binge-watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt?

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted (if any):
Earlier this year, I traveled to San Francisco as a part of Square’s Code Camp. Code Camp is an all-women five-day immersion program that includes workshops and leaderships sessions along with Q&A’s led by some of Square’s top executives. One Q&A was with Sarah Friar, the CFO and Operations Lead at Square. She stressed how essential it is to love what you do and make time for yourself. I always knew having passion for your work is important, but until hearing her perspective on it, I didn’t realize how critical it actually is. She recommended listening to the “The Meaning of Work” Ted Talk, which describes how believing in what you’re making – what you’re building – pushes you to do extraordinary things. I also learned that you should always apply for the things you want to try – even if you don’t think you’re qualified for it! Voicing your opinion and saying “Hey, I’m interested in this job opening…” or “Can I shadow someone to see how this works?” is essential to getting the experience you want and achieving things you never thought you could.

Song that makes you want to dance:
If You Wanna Stay” by The Griswolds

Favorite project you’ve worked on:
Before taking my first CS class, I had never considered a career in computer science because I didn’t know much about it and I believed it was beyond my reach. I think this is a belief that a lot of people have, so this year I created a YouTube programming tutorial series called “30 Days of Code” for people with no programming experience that want to learn how to code. Whether you are a 10-year-old girl at home or a grandparent wanting to know more about the inner-workings of your smart phone, this series is for anyone wanting to learn more about computer science without feeling intimidated or pressured. In teaming with a startup called HackerRank, each video tutorial is also accompanied with a HackerRank coding challenge so that viewers can put their skills to the test immediately. The series launched on December 31st, 2015 with over 20,000 signups and has 75,000+ views on YouTube. These programming tutorials have not only helped thousands of coders around the world, but they have also created an online community where unconventional programmers can talk about their experiences in CS and help each other through coding difficulties. I release new tutorials every Friday so if you ever want to learn something new or review some of your CS foundations, check it out!

Ideal Job:
As a computer science major and film minor, I’m not sure what my ideal job would be. I really like the idea of creating experiences. When you go to a website, you get an immediate first impression of what it’s about and either click away if you aren’t interested or delve deeper into the layers of the application. Same thing goes for film. The opening credits of a movie set the tone for the entire film and it takes you on a journey of adventure, romance, or wherever it wants to take you! Similarly, whether you come up with an idea for an incredible app or a hilarious comedy sketch, both computer science and film start in the abstract and involve bringing people together to make the abstract real. That’s what I want to do – I want to collaborate with creative and enthusiastic people to create unforgettable experiences using technology.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Always stay open minded. When I entered college, I knew nothing of computer science. However, I spontaneously took an intro class freshman year and fell in love with the subject almost immediately. Something I thought was so intimidating before came together in my head like clockwork and I knew this was something that was meant for me. If I haven’t taken that class, I never would have found out how fascinating computer science really is or discovered my true passion. You will never know about the stuff you don’t try so push yourself to try something new every once in awhile. You might be surprised.

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