inspiration · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Emma Vaughan

“Power is not given to you. You have to take it.” – Beyoncé Knowles

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I’ve lived in the Toledo, Ohio area my entire life, it’s not necessarily the Silicon Valley of the Midwest.  My high school didn’t offer any programming courses. My parents are both Software Engineers, but they didn’t push me into the field. They knew that it had to be my decision.

I’ve learned to love coding on my own terms, but it took a while. I came to Case Western Reserve University in the fall of 2013 as a Biomedical Engineering Major. I was excited to build things. I couldn’t wait until I had the opportunity to build a catapult for my physics class, machine parts of a new state of the art prosthetic hand, or grow a heart valve during lab. Unfortunately, the only thing I built during my freshman year was a crude Hangman game that I programmed in MATLAB.

Excited that I did well on my project, I showed my parents the final result. They suggested that since I was having fun in MATLAB that maybe I should sign up to take Introduction to Java next semester.  Unfortunately, I refused. Once again they didn’t pressure me, they let me figure things out on my own.

A whole year and a half later, I was struggling to enjoy myself in my classes, so I signed up to take Introduction to Java. By the end of that first ‘real’ Computer Science course and a summer as a manufacturing engineering intern, I was hooked. I decided that even though I was entering my Junior year of college it was time for me to switch my major, and it’s been one of the best decisions that I’ve made.

As a Senior, I am continuously working to make myself more competitive as I prepare to enter the workforce.  I’m becoming more involved in the Hacker’s Society at school, I’m planning on attending my first Hackathon next weekend, and I’m attending the Grace Hopper Conference in October.

While others who came from a more experienced background, the Silicon Valley of the Midwest, or even the actual Silicon Valley, may have done these things years before me, it doesn’t mean that I’m late to the game.

As Julie Andrews said in Princess Diaries, “The Queen is never late, everybody else is simply early.”

Fun Fact: I love sailing. From being the skipper in a 420 in Junior Regattas to being crew on my family’s sailboat, there’s no place I’d rather be.

What # would define your life journey?

Favorite website / app:
Airbnb. I think that it’s a great service for young people to use, so they can travel affordably and meet the amazing hosts. I lived between 4 different Aibnbs while I was interning the Bay Area last summer.

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
My mom. She’s taught me that a little pep talk can make a big difference.

Song that makes you want to dance:
Fight Song by Rachel Platten

Ideal Job:
Working as a Project Manager at a software company full of people that make coming to work everyday enjoyable.

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