#WomeninSTEM · #WomeninTech · inspiration · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Lily Zhang

“If you have an idea, you have to believe in yourself or no one else will.” – Sarah Michelle Gellar

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I’m a junior studying Computer Science and Psychology at Northwestern. I’ve been in the Chicago suburbs all my life, and was fortunate enough to attend a diverse, privileged, and most of all, competitive high school with opportunities to be involved with pretty much anything I wanted. I was kind of scared to try new things though, so I stuck with the things I had been doing all my life – I joined the soccer team, played in the orchestra, and took a leadership role in our school’s National Honor Society.

Not much changed when I entered college; I now spend most of my time outside of class on the club soccer team and participating in Greek Life and Chinese Student Association. I’ve learned a great deal about myself since then, not necessarily from the activities I’ve participated in, but from the people I’ve surrounded myself with.

Fun Fact: I don’t eat vegetables.

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Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

What # would define your life journey?
#breathe – It’s something I always remind myself to do when I feel overwhelmed with things. Sometimes I need to take a deep breath and reevaluate where I am and what I’m doing. It serves a dual purpose as a reminder that if I encounter a disappointment or obstacle on my path, I just need to breathe.

Favorite website / app:
Spotify! No matter how I’m feeling at any time of day, I can find something to suit my mood and complement my activity, whether I’m working out, studying, or about to fall asleep in bed. My proudest accomplishment is a carefully curated Spotify playlist, SMILE, that is pretty effective at cheering people up 🙂

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
I’ve always looked up to my older brother and admired how happy he is with his life. He’s easily one of the happiest people I know, and I like to think that his happiness is what led to his success.

Song that makes you want to dance:
Say It, Just Say It – The Mowgli’s

Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
The biggest challenge I’ve faced in my life is probably overcoming the lack of emotional support I’ve received from my family. I specify emotional because my parents were great at financially supporting me and always making sure there was food in my mouth. I lived a pretty comfortable life at home thanks to their hard work, but I was always very distant from them. The cultural gap made it hard for them to understand some of the things I did and it made it hard for me to understand the ways in which they showed their support. I remember sitting at the dinner table when I was still a high school junior or senior and telling my parents I thought I wanted to be a surgeon. It should’ve been music to their ears, but instead my mother started listing off reasons why I shouldn’t. You can’t survive that long in school. Your hands aren’t steady enough. The same thing happened when I decided I might be interested in a career in business; apparently I wasn’t enough of a people person.

Eventually I took their “advice” with a grain of salt and just made decisions on my own. My parents got used to just not asking questions and trusting that I knew what I was doing. After heading off to college, I realized how much the lack of a relationship with my parents had really affected me. I’ve recently started trying to fix the relationship by filling my parents in on my life so that they know more about me, but it’s still a work in progress.

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Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset


Ideal Job:
I’m leaning towards a front end software development position at a mid-sized tech company that produces a consumer product. Maybe after a few years I might go into product management, but right now a lot of the future is blurry for me. I’m making decisions as I learn more about the industry and my mind probably changes every once in awhile.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Discover who you are and embrace it. A lot of people, especially women, spend their life trying to fix who they are and covering all their flaws instead of using their insight and strengths to complement their weaknesses. It’s amazing how much more you can accomplish when you are confident and comfortable with yourself!

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