#WomeninSTEM · #WomeninTech · goal · inspiration

Women Who Reign: Esmeralda Murray

“Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.” — Sara Blakely

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I’m currently a junior at Syracuse University studying Quantitative Economics and International Relations. On campus, I’m the fiscal agent for Jerk Magazine, the Blog Editor for Active Minds, a member of the Student Conduct Board, #44Social, the Transfer Transitions Team and Women in Technology (WIT), an alumna of OrangeSeeds, and a recently-appointed delegate of Syracuse’s Model United Nations Team.

I first started “coding” when I made a Neopets account and decided to change the theme of my guild using HTML by trial and error; I remember my favorite element being <marquee>. Though I’ve always been enamored by the tech industry, I never once considered programming for a living until I taught myself Python during my free time in order to expedite data analysis for a summer internship. Now I want to pursue data science for a living and I work on at least one personal technical project a week! As for a fun fact — I have two first names, two middle names and two last names. My nickname, Mila, is derived from my second first name (weird, I know), Milagros.

What # would define your life journey?

Favorite website / app:
This is surprisingly a hard question! I enjoy typography and color schemes more than I honestly should and browse Coolors or Typewolf at least once a day for the fun of it. I also enjoy reading FiveThirtyEight.

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
This is such a hackneyed answer, but my mom is the most influential figure in my life, without a doubt. She’s the perfect foil to my well-meaning but overly stern immigrant father; she stresses being practical and productive when it comes to planning out my life journey, but has always encouraged me to professionally pursue whatever makes me happy. As a former paramedic for the Fire Department of New York, she was one of the many 9/11 first responders who developed permanent disabilities after the attack, and I remember spending most of my adolescent years attempting to match her civility, selflessness and valor. I attempt to optimize through data analysis because I want to help people, much like how my mom helped save so many people not only on that day, but during her entire career.

Song that makes you want to dance:
Starboy by the Weeknd!

Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
I’ve struggled with depression since high school and had gotten to the point where feeling melancholy felt natural. My depression was bundled with bouts of low self-esteem and I either restricted myself from pursuing certain things or pursued them and dealt with impostor syndrome soon after. Though I had a latent passion for math, logic, computer science and economics in high school, I thought I wasn’t intelligent and sharp enough to major in such things and instead decided to study in International Relations as a freshman. I decided to tackle my demons head on after I became a Lime Connect Fellow and met some of the most accomplished individuals I’ve met in my life, all of whom had disabilities and some of whom possessed mental illnesses. Being surrounded by students who failed to let their disabilities define them and being able to finally discuss the nuances of depression and the importance of getting help, I eventually came to terms with the fact that I deserved so much more than just wallowing in sadness for the rest of my life. This year I finally spoke to my doctor about my depression after seven years, declared a double major in Economics, started minoring in Applied Math, applied for as many hackathons as possible and started editing the Active Minds blog at my university to help myself and others creatively express their their experiences with mental health, wellness and illness.

Ideal Job:
My ideal job would be one that allows me to use data science and machine learning to build upon systems, processes and applications and make them more efficient and applicable to the everyday consumer lifestyle. This includes exploiting potential sources of productivity and designing solutions around my findings. I particularly enjoy statistically analyzing behavioral data in order to figure out the “why” behind how individuals act. I was recently introduced to quantitative design research and I think it’s everything I want to do: combining quantitative findings with qualitative insights to influence the nature of design.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Do so well that no one can doubt you. A lot of people have preconceived notions of what a successful individual looks like, especially in fields that possess low numbers of women and/or minorities. I’ve learned that the greatest way to prove people wrong is to show them how successful you can be in any role you’ve chosen.

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