#WomeninSTEM · #WomeninTech · inspiration · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Grace Lin

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I hail from the sunny land of Tall Tree, California. In high school, I loved math, physics, and Lord of the Rings, never imagining I would end up interested in computer science in college. Since I was young, I’ve always wanted to do something that would positively impact the lives of people, something that I could be good at. This dream job has gone through many revisions, from being a doctor (age 3), to a stuffed animal gifter (age 5, was very good at that), to an investigative journalist (age 13), and finally, to an engineer (age 18).
2013 U.S. Physics Team

At Harvard, where I am in my third year, I’m involved in SummerCamp.io, Fusian, an acapella group, Quasar, and Harvard Women in CS. I’m incredibly excited to be directing the WiCS conference, Harvard WECode, this year. It’s coming up in February (registration at wecodeharvard.com!) and I’m really looking forward to building relationships with peers and mentors.
My first acapella concert!

Part of the reason this organization has become important to me is that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized the degree to which implicit biases influence how people perceive me as a woman in tech. The attendees (all genders are welcome) are going to be part of how this community evolves, and I hope that the thought-provoking conversations we have at WECode will contribute in some small way to building a more equal and inclusive future.
WECode 2016

What # would define your life journey?

Favorite website / app:
Dark Sky

Song that makes you want to dance:
Marching On, by One Republic or T-shirt and Jeans, by Hank Green

Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
Last spring, I sprained my ankle badly while playing Ultimate Frisbee. After an incredible season of individual and team growth, it was discouraging to have that capped by an injury. Oftentimes, we imagine that striving towards a goal requires only one’s own determination and perseverance. In real life, we don’t live in vacuums, and this means that things that are outside of our control affect our ability to perform. It was difficult to watch my teammates work on new plays and improve.
Blazar at a local tournament
On our team, we divide the world into “uncontrollables” and “controllables”. Uncontrollables include a rainy day, homework due for the week, or an injury. Controllables are things like your attitude, your work ethic, or taking care of yourself.

Honestly, most of the time I take it for granted that the only dues I have to pay are time and effort. I know focusing on the controllables and moving past the uncontrollables is resilience, but life hasn’t made it all that hard for me to do so. When life throws me a curve ball, I remember to count my blessings that usually, there are so many supports in my life that make me able to focus on my goals, like my family, my school, and my health. So maybe the challenge isn’t overcoming setbacks, the challenge is to appreciate even during the good times as much as during the bad ones. In the paraphrased words of writer John Green, if you start believing you deserve all the good in your life because you are so much better than other people, you start believing that you, or others, deserve all the bad in their life when terrible things happen to them, and neither of these beliefs are entirely true.

Ideal Job:
Programming the computers for the first manned mission to Mars

More realistically, I hope to be applying computer science to education, cleaning up the environment, or medicine, or researching in cybersecurity.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Learn fearlessly.

Women, especially, second guess their ability to tackle the unknown. If I’m psyching myself out about how hard learning something will be, I tell myself I should at least try learning the subject for a week. Getting started is the hardest part, because once I have some progress under my belt, I’m excited to understand more, instead of being afraid that I will put in time and not get anywhere. (This mentality also works for motivating yourself to go for a run.) That and, don’t apologize for things that aren’t your fault. I am strongly considering starting a Venmo called @thatSorryWillCostYou for WECode. Every time someone calls you out for saying sorry for something you didn’t do, you have to Venmo a dollar to this account, and we’ll donate proceeds to Girls Who Code.
grace4 Dream bigger! By stretching the boundaries (the wrapper), life can be filled with so much more good (the dumpling filling).

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