#WomeninSTEM · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Emily Dich

“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” — Rosalynn Carter

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I’m an aspiring foodie. Like many, I want to travel the world, mainly to explore different cultures through their sights, people, and, obviously, cuisine. I’ve recently been able to start fulfilling this goal by going to Europe for my first time! I went to Frankfurt, Germany to compete in a – stick with me here – High Performance Computer (Supercomputer) Student Cluster Competition. Really long name, but extremely eye-opening and fun time! I’ve really became a big fan of HPCs and learning to stretch the potential of their extremely amazing capabilities to process information (as well as the road of further innovation/transformation they’re going down).

What # would define your life journey?
Wow this is a hard one. #bebriefbeboldbegone

Favorite website / app:
Quora!!!! (2nd: Facebook, 3rd: Pinterest)

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
My mentor from my current internship and my mother both have most recently inspired me – I don’t remember how they put it, but they remind me to be kind, to surround myself with people who inspire me, and to be a source of inspiration myself.

Song that makes you want to dance:
Save Us – Paul McCartney or Arigato – Julie Bergan or anything Beyonce/Chain Smokers/Fifth Harmony

Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
I think my life challenge and technical challenge go hand in hand. I immigrated to the U.S. when I was five. I think I was lucky to have had a smooth transition as an immigrant due to my hard working parents. They inspire me every day: from their childhood struggles to their tough settlement in a culture so foreign to their own native ones. The 2008 recession really exacerbated situations at home and my life became tumultuous. I kind of just put my head down and studied. School was my safe zone through the separation and constant moving. Most of all, I wanted to create a path that my little brother could witness and see that it’s possible for low-income, first generation kids to achieve this “American Dream” for which my parents sacrificed everything they knew. He’s 9 years younger than me and I think my desire to make sure he doesn’t go through certain struggles I had to go through really drove me to succeed.

I think injecting myself into the technical field with an underlying gender bias, without parents who were even remotely involved in the tech field, and without as extensive as a background as many of my college peers were really intimidating factors, but it’s a field that, if it weren’t for the intimidation, I’ve come to admire and enjoy. I was on the brink of just forgoing computer science because of rejections (from my compiler…oh and companies) and people that focus more on how I look than my skills, but I have to remind myself that I’ve come a long way from knowing absolutely zilch about programming before college to an amount (+initiative) that allowed me to land an internship with an amazing corporation. I guess all in all, my life has had its struggles (most left unsaid here), but I have realized that many don’t, unfortunately, have the chances I have had, from encountering awesome people to receiving rare opportunities.  I’m still in the process of overcoming the hump, but through self-discovering how I learn best, reconnecting with my family often, starting CS projects, and trusting and finding friends who are willing to accompany my academic adventure have all kept me going.

Ideal Job:
My ideal job would be traveling the world as a researcher (whether that’s in medicine, computer science, or a mix of both), fieldwork, and recording my journey and interaction with others (create films essentially).

In 10 years, realistically, I hope I’m on my way to getting a doctoral degree or graduated with a masters researching a topic I really care about. The topic, I’m currently uncertain on. One route is applying AI/ML to education – personalizing education for all types of kids instead of the mass production system we have going on now. I’m hoping to strongly utilize my computer science background for environmental health research (analyzing patterns of epidemics, effects of environment). With that, I would like to get involved in policy work because I believe that many things intertwine: health, politics, environment, etc. Whatever route I go down, I think I would like to dip my toes in policy work. I’m not completely set on these plans because there will be so many unpredictable events that will occur in a span of 10 years and my life could be twisted in ways I never expected. The thing I can definitely tell you is that I’ll be ready to embrace it all.

Anyways, 10 years is such a long time…I don’t even know what I’m eating for tomorrow or exactly what I’ll be concentrating in (declaring this year). Mostly, I’m looking towards self-improvement and I hope to have learned how to “better adult” in 10 years.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
As Nike puts it, just do it. Seriously, don’t be afraid to take that little risk each day and get out of your comfort zone to reach toward your goals. Don’t be afraid to question society, yourself, authority, etc. Then, once you’ve taken control of a situation or made a choice/action, don’t regret your decisions: they help you along the way (success or self-improvement), no matter the outcome.

Most importantly, stay healthy and don’t isolate yourself! Staying healthy means you’ll have more energy to reign your own life. Also, If you ever think you’re alone, you’re not! Please don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you whether it’s for help, advice, or connections. People are what will help you face any challenge (technical or life).

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