women who reign

Women Who Reign: Danica Liang

“Life will hit you hard in the face, wait for you to get back up just so it can kick you in the stomach. But getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air.” – Sarah Kay

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
Hi there! My name is Danica and I am a rising third-year student studying Computer Science at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. It’s located in beautiful San Luis Obispo (wow, who could have guessed?!), a charming small town on the central coast nestled between mountains and the water. It’s lovely.

Plus, I’m actually quite used to small towns — I am originally from Alameda, a small town in the San Francisco Bay Area that is actually an island!

A fun fact is that I am a part of my school’s chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-ed service fraternity. Through this organization, not only have I met some of my best friends in college but I have had the opportunity to contribute to some wonderful causes. Aside from Alpha Phi Omega, I am also a part of WISH (Women Involved in Software and Hardware), a community for female computing majors that strives to close the gender gap in technology, and Partners Ambassadors, a club that promotes higher education to students of underrepresented backgrounds through student panels and tours.

What # would define your life journey?
#treatyoself. I am constantly relearning how important it is recognize your own achievements and to be proud of what you have accomplished. This is also a reference to my one of my all-time favorite TV shows, Parks and Recreation.

Favorite website / app:
Here’s a throwback — Neopets. Neopets was actually where I first learned coding and graphic design! I was fiddling with HTML, CSS, and Photoshop to create my own user lookups.

As for favorite websites/apps that I use now, I really enjoy using Quora! I see it as this amazing hub of interesting stories and knowledge. I also probably use Snapchat way too much for my own good….

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
I first fell in love with spoken word poetry when I stumbled upon poet Sarah Kay’s TED Talk. I have always enjoyed listened to stories, but I had never experienced a more powerful form of storytelling that made me so giddy with excitement. I find her work so beautiful, thought-provoking, and inspiring. Here is one of my favorite quotes from her:

“Life will hit you hard in the face, wait for you to get back up just so it can kick you in the stomach. But getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air.”

Song that makes you want to dance:
Mr. Brightside by the Killers never gets old.

Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
Last winter, I took an introduction to computer organization class in which I learned about machine language and assembly language programming. While it was interesting to me to see the barebones of programming, it was a difficult class for me and I struggled with the assignments and labs. In some of these assignments, we were supposed to implement queues and linked lists in assembly language. Yet, this was the same quarter I was starting to learn about data structures, so to say the least I was quite confused. On top of these two programming classes, I was also taking two math classes. I overcame this challenge by asking classmates for help and forming studying groups.

Looking back on this experience now, I definitely took on too much, but I was able to learn a lot about myself in the process. I learned about the importance of balance — that while it may feel ideal to lock myself up in my room on a Saturday night to do more work, it can be productive to actually go out and hang out with my friends. I also found relief in talking to others about how stressed out I was. This opened up meaningful discussions and I realized that wow, I have a wonderful support group that I know I can depend on. Sometimes all it takes is for someone else to give you their reassurance that you truly will be okay!

Ideal Job:
I would love to explore the intersection of computer science and social good, creating products that will make a tangible difference in solving the social issues that exist in our world today. I am also interested in mobile development, computer graphics, data visualization, and product management.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
I saw this quote online one day and it really resonated with me: “You all have a little bit of ‘I want to save the world’ in you,’ that’s why you’re here, in college. I want you to know that it’s okay if you only save one person, and it’s okay if that person is you.”

There’s this underlying pressure to do everything. Especially in the tech community, there’s pressure to always be coding, creating side projects, practicing technical interview questions, and do as much as you possibly can to ensure a promising future for yourself. And despite all of this, you are still expected to maintain a social life.

Know that it’s okay to have other hobbies besides coding. And if you want to be coding on the weekends? That’s awesome, you do you. Just make sure that it’s something that you genuinely want to be doing, a side project that you find absolutely fascinating.

My last piece of advice is this: You will be okay.

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