#WomeninSTEM · #WomeninTech · inspiration · Technology · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Aishwarya Borkar

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” -Albus Dumbledore

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I’m a proud Bay Area native, and will be graduating with my bachelor’s degree in software engineering this May. I love Hot Cheetos, a piping hot cup of chai (or a peppermint mocha from Starbucks if I want to treat myself), Harry Potter, and fútbol more than anything. I’ve been fortunate enough to serve as the President of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) at San Jose State University, an organization with which I’ve been involved since my freshman year. Without a doubt, SWE is much more than just a club to me – it’s my home away from home. Before college, I was easily intimidated by the unknown, and the thought of failure and public speaking. SWE helped me find my voice and awakened the courage inside me to apply for opportunities which I previously believed I wasn’t worthy of.

This year, I was blessed with the best officer team a girl could ask for. At our very first officer meeting, we spent about 1 hour just filling pages and pages of a notebook with goals we wanted to accomplish for our SWE Section. I’m proud to say we REIGNED it. We brought back an annual outreach event for high school girls called WOW! That’s Engineering!, which was an immense success. 91 aspiring engineers attended workshops hosted by Lockheed Martin, IBM, and Intel and heard remarks from three influential women, including Dr. Jinny Rhee, the Associate Dean of Engineering at SJSU. We renovated our clubroom in the Engineering Building. We cultivated relationships with several companies in Silicon Valley. We grew our section to over 135 members (and counting!). Truly, anything is possible when you get to work with great people who bring their unique ideas to the table and who unconditionally support you. There is no I in team, but there is a we in SWE. #SWECanDoIt


What # would define your life journey?


Favorite website / app:
Lately, I have been a huge fan of websites and applications that facilitate event management and school assignments. I enjoy Google Drive and its suite of tools, Dropbox, and Eventbrite. A feature that I particularly enjoy is being able to export data to a CSV and then using the data in the CSV to create mailing lists. Dropbox is just so convenient with respect to cloud storage and backup, and even version control for documents such as resumes. When I have time, I like to view the progression of my freshman resume to my senior resume – I could have never guessed I would be able to get two internships, let alone one internship, at companies in the Bay Area.


Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
Cristiano Ronaldo. He, too, has succeeded even though the odds were against him as he was growing up. His determination to keep improving, even though he has already won so many awards, even though many sports analysts write him off as having reached his peak, is what inspires me. He admits to having displayed arrogance early on in his career, and has matured tremendously. To me, this demonstrates that you are never too young to keep learning and to keep growing as a person. Especially as a software engineer, you must adapt to change and to new trends in industry. Above all, following Cristiano’s career introduced me to the world of fútbol, and I have never looked back.


Song that makes you want to dance:
Sooraj Ki Baahon Mein” from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, a Hindi movie released in 2011


Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
Four years ago, I was faced with a decision many high school seniors encounter: where do I spend the next 4 years of my life?

In retrospect, I was suffering from Imposter’s Syndrome big time. I still do. But at that moment in time, even though I had been accepted into CS programs at different universities, I questioned my abilities. Would I be able to keep up? It took me hours, sometimes days, sometimes with the assistance of my AP Computer Science teacher, to finish *one* assignment – how would I fare in actual college? What were the admissions directors at these universities thinking? *Me*?

On a whim (actually at the insistence of my older sister), I applied for a scholarship at San Jose State University exclusively for incoming freshmen. I didn’t think much of it. Then, I received an email inviting me for an on-campus interview. Interesting, I thought. The interview happened. I wouldn’t pick myself for the scholarship based on that performance, I thought. A few days later, as I was walking from third period to brunch, a notification on my phone read “Congratulations! You have been selected as a recipient of the Silicon Valley Engineering Scholarship.” I stared at my phone, completely stunned.

I knew then and there I wanted to go to SJSU. For the first time in my life, I believed in myself. My interviewer, the scholarship committee, the Associate Dean of Engineering, saw the potential in me to be something great. I couldn’t help but wonder how many other opportunities I had let slip by because I didn’t have enough faith in my own abilities. But I vowed to never make that mistake again. This is something else that drives me to be so involved in SWE. Every female engineer deserves to know that she IS good enough. Rejection from an internship is not failure. Even a failing grade is not failure. Everything is a learning opportunity from which you learn and become better.


What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
I reject the notion that women are weak. Wholeheartedly. The sacrifice that our mothers make to bring us into this world and to put us before themselves every time is proof that women are strong. We are strong. We are resilient. We are purposely put into challenging environments because we have the determination and the intelligence to stand up for ourselves and to make the world a better place. Never let anyone else convince you otherwise.

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