#WomeninSTEM · #WomeninTech · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Xuewen Sherry Li

“Don’t say anything about yourself that your best friends wouldn’t say about you.” – My CS professor to me, after I called myself stupid

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
Hello reader =) My name is Sherry Li and I am currently a 3rd year Computer Science major at UC Santa Barbara. I actually switched from undeclared (or you can see it as a combined interest in code, psychology, biology, and film cinematography… everyone else has 897987 interests too, right? ) to CS a little over a year ago. I received the news about my acceptance at 5 AM in an airbnb while I was on a backpacking trip in Europe, and I absolutely couldn’t contain my excitement b/c that moment held a pivotal point in my life. I had gambled an entire year and a half of courses dedicated to a major that even faculty members advised me to “transfer schools because this major is too impacted to accept more students.” Now of course that was only one or two people versus the large group of supportive advisors and professors that pushed me to try. Meeting that group of mentors and enduring the major switching process has changed the way I view myself and my challenges in life.

Fun fact:  Growing up, I moved a lot between different cities in China, Texas, and California and I probably changed schools about 10 times. It really makes me appreciate the stable best friends that I have now.

What # would define your life journey?
I honestly don’t have a life defining hashtag, but there is another that I would like to share b/c it’s it’s had an impact on me recently.

#LoveLikeDawson is a hashtag that rose to honor a high school classmate of mine, Dawson Hartwig, who passed away in January 2017. A Facebook page popped up in his name (https://www.facebook.com/LoveLikeDawson/) where friends/family post daily inspirational and uplifting stories about how he always treated others with love. As someone who is sometimes quick to anger, I look at this almost every day to remind myself of what’s important in life. I encourage anyone who is interested in learning more to check out Dawson’s page!

Favorite website / app:
Muz.li – Chrome extension that displays new design ideas every day
Quora – I love reading random questions as a pastime
Skimm – Sends you news every morning so you can stay #woke
Yummly – yuuuuummy recipes for novice cooks like myself
Runkeeper – my housemates and I do running challenges on this app and it is so motivating

Song that makes you want to dance:
P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) – Michael Jackson

Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
At age 8 I immigrated to the U.S. I had no friends, got made fun of a lot, and I never opened my mouth in school. I got my first F because I was too shy to give an oral presentation during my 6th month in America. I moved back and forth with different relatives. I fought a lot with family members, so much that I distanced myself and got involved with the wrong crowd. By age 11, I bullied other kids. By age 13, I was in minor but still shameful trouble with the law. By age 15, I hated what I had become so much that I dropped self esteem in every respect. I really thought I would stay angry forever. What really pulled me out of that slump was discovering true friendships that helped me realize my worth and though it’s a work in progress, I am proud of who I am today! School-wise, I had my AP Calculus & AP English teacher reiterate to me again and again that I had talent, which meant a lot to me because the year before, my old math teacher had held up my exam paper (with my name covered) and talked about how I was one of those “inconsistent” ones. At the time, that didn’t make me doubt my teacher’s qualifications to teach, it made me doubt my own intelligence and drove any thoughts of me pursuing STEM into oblivion. So my more encouraging teachers were my daily motivation, and the people I have around me today are my rocks — they are how I overcame my biggest obstacle thus far.

Ideal Job:
Wherever life takes me as long as it involves creativity, helping others, etc. At this moment right now, I would love to work on the software side of animation movies and own a dance studio someday.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives
Find mentors! It’s easy to feel like you are bothering someone or that you are not “worthy” of their time, but as students, we are in a rare bubble where we are constantly learning and we are surrounded by people who genuinely want to help us. Rely on yourself, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. Lastly, show your appreciation for anyone that ever puts time aside for you, because those are the people you want in your life.

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