#WomeninSTEM · #WomeninTech · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Sharon Roy

“No failure is truly a failure if I have learned new lessons from the journey.”

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I just graduated from The University of Georgia with a Bachelor’s in Computer Science in December 2016. I love furthering STEM education and I’m really interested in learning how to make community service more sustainable. Fun Fact: I was born in Sydney, Australia!

What # would define your life journey?

Favorite website / app:
99% Invisible [I love you, Roman Mars!]

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
There’s an entire generation of women who moved to America as dependents (H4) on their husbands’ skilled worker (H1-B) visas. They left behind their careers, their passions, and their hard work towards their lifelong dreams. They got married and put their all into raising families and supporting the next generation of education and passionate careers. They became the support system that my generation of immigrant children came home to every day after school. These mothers found the balance between the culture and heritage that they left behind in their motherland and the newness in America. When peer pressure made us want to disassociate ourselves from our smelly lunches and cryptic mothertongues, our mothers reminded us that all that made us different, made us unique. They not only showed us right from wrong and put bandaids on our scraped knees, but also helped us learn how to celebrate our otherness and love both of our countries. Now, decades later, so many of them are going back to school or starting to work again. They are going back to fulfill their lifelong career aspirations and showing us that no set back can put out the fire of passion and drive. They, as always, are our role models. Especially today, when it seems like all the progress we’ve made is being snatched away from us, our determination and hard work towards a progressive and inclusive world will pay off. There is nothing that can tear the fabric of our society. We just have to look to our mothers to find the strength to fight, to support, and to always love endlessly.

Song that makes you want to dance:
I trained in classical Indian dance [Kuchipudi] and Indian folk dance for most of my formative years and like to think that between all my weekend classes and weekday rehearsals, I learned how to be dedicated, respectful, resilient, and introspective. Since it’s always been such an important aspect of my identity, I’ll link a song that will always make me want to start dancing: https://open.spotify.com/track/6ZWpuWV8mu7uoEOmU5ogTi

Otherwise, I’m always down for some ‘Cheap Thrills’ by Sia 🙂

Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
It was a brisk October morning. I was missing my chemistry class again to go to the doctor’s office. After years of not knowing what was causing my body to fail me, my chronic pain was validated when a doctor gave it a name. I was 15 when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. At 15, we look up to the seniors who show off their letterman jackets. At 15, we overpluck our eyebrows or douse ourselves with cheap cologne. At 15, there’s a new world of self discovery about everything from socialism to stoichiometry, from French kissing to the French Revolution, from hockey to Hoare’s Partition. But, at 15, I did not have the energy to put into self-discovery. I was trying to figure out how to live with an unbearable amount of pain. I was trying to love myself even when my body made me fail at everything I loved to do. I didn’t have the energy for friends, for finding a talent, for discovering a passion anymore. Life had become me and my willpower against me and my body. And to this day, that is still what it is. But, I have learned that my willpower and amazing support system is my strongest asset. I have learned that my willpower drives me to try plans A through Z [in ASCII] in order to reach my goals. No failure is truly a failure if I have learned new lessons from the journey. If it takes me longer to reach my end goal, then I should take advantage of every opportunity in the middle. And if in the middle, I change my end goal, then that is fine, too! If I could go back to my 15 year old self and tell her one thing, it would be to put more importance on developing a balanced lifestyle.

Ideal Job:
I want to be the mentor that I did not always have when I was growing up. I would like to help people with invisible disabilities/illness feel welcome to the world of technology. The wonderful thing about this industry is that it is best enjoyed when paired with another field of study, another passion and so, we all benefit when people with different views, walks of life, and backgrounds collaborate together.

I would like to be a Senior Software Engineer or Project Tech Lead in 10 years. Coding is very dear to my heart and has helped me form my current identity. But, I am always open to new challenges and experiences. Most importantly, I want to never be stagnant in my job. So I am willing to go down any path that excites me, allows me to help people, and experience life to the fullest.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Balance is the most important thing. Be everything you want to be whether or not that fits the mold of what you think you should be. Do not apologize for being too girly, too manly, too backend-y, too skinny, too curious, too anything. Do not be afraid to be everything at once. With enough experience, you’ll find your poise. You’ll find your fulfillment. Build your own definition of success. Iterate. Build a product roadmap of yourself, for every relationship, for every dream. It will keep you accountable to yourself and remind you to be grateful for the journey so far. While learning how to balance all that you want to do and want to be, you’ll learn to be unapologetically yourself. And lastly, call your parents!

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