#WomeninSTEM · #WomeninTech · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Gretchen Girdzis

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” -Arthur Ashe

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
Hi – I’m Gretchen! I was born among the green mountains in Vermont, where I then enjoyed a few years of crisp autumn weather and sledding in snow blizzards. At the age of three, my family and I moved to Florida. While living in the “Sunshine State” for five years, I found excitement in exploring Disney World (yes – it is magical) and frolicking on the many beaches along the coast. Although I enjoyed Florida, I was happy to discover I would live in Vermont once again, while still appreciating childhood.

When it came time to transition from high school to higher education, my mind was swarmed with many different thoughts. My major choices ranged from Veterinary Medicine to Entertainment Law to Dietetics to Radiology (you name it – I probably considered it). After contemplating almost every possible major on the planet, my mom encouraged me to watch a short video broadcasted through The Today Show. This segment surrounded the what, when, where, why, and how of Computer Science. With technology in the modern world growing exponentially and the level of dependence rising, the opportunities are virtually endless. It is almost like every major combined into one, fueling the unique field that it is! Solving problems through creative and technological approaches, where people across the globe benefit greatly – that is something to cause excitement!

Currently, I am a junior, studying as a Computer Science major, and Mathematics minor at the University of Vermont. I am enjoying every minute of my college experience, combining my love for Vermont and technology. A few other interests of mine include travelling, photography, cinematography, indie/alternative music, hiking, skiing, basketball, baking, and spending time with family.

What # would define your life journey?

Favorite website / app:
Instagram – It is my life story in photos.

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
My parents (I could not choose one) inspire me each and every day. They are always encouraging me to work hard and do my best because that is the best I can do. They have always believed in me, even when I have not. They have always supported me, and have always only wanted me to be happy.

Thank You Mom & Dad ♥

Song that makes you want to dance:
Paris – Magic Man

Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
When I began the second semester of my first year, after my freshman excitement faded away, I came to a realization. I began drawing conclusions that Computer Science was not the right major for me. The concepts presented through my classes were quite difficult to comprehend, leading to many frustrating late nights and early mornings.

Unfortunately, Computer Science classes were not offered at my high school and I lacked knowledge within this field. I felt confidence in my math, science, and English skills, as these subjects had always been a part of my academic life. Computer Science had simply not entered my curriculum until I began college at the standard age of eighteen. I felt as though I knew nothing.

I continued to work hard, as I found Computer Science to be a fascinating field. I exposed myself to as much information as possible, learning this new language of CS straight from its core. I formed study groups with my peers, and together we accomplished tasks that had once seemed impossible. Through motivation and dedication, I finished my semester on a strong, positive note. I had never felt more proud of myself – every second of hard work was well worth it.

Ideal Job:
Narrowing on one specific career path is difficult, as the opportunities are endless. Whatever I do, wherever I am, I hope to be a part of an amazing team that may contribute positively to the world.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
It is completely normal to feel lost. In fact, it is almost normal to feel lost. Everyone is struggling together to understand complicated algorithms and solve infamous null pointer exceptions. Ask questions and a lot of them – your peers may have the same exact questions as you!

I will leave you with the advice I have received from my parents – do your best because that is the best you can do.


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