#WomeninSTEM · #WomeninTech · Computer Science · inspiration · STEM · Technology · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Elizabeth (Liz) Petrov

“One day you will wake up & there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.” ― Paulo Coelho


Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I am a junior from West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South. I have been interested in technology for all my life and self-taught myself to code since I was a little girl. I am currently taking all the computer science courses offered at my high school, and will take a computer science course at Princeton University next fall as a co-enrollment with my high school.
I love technology and to improve my skills I have pursued a variety of independent projects, including building my own quadcopter and 3d printer. Last year I ventured into app development with a Great Gatsby themed flappy bird game for my Language Arts teacher, and have found my passion in creating mobile applications.
The summer before Junior year I helped create an app called Class Reveal, which allowed students within my school district to see who they share classes with before school starts, eliminating the need to post their schedules online. We are currently working to improve the app and make it more available to students from other school districts. Then in the beginning of this school year I co-founded an app making studio called Appaneer with two of my friends and fellow tech enthusiasts. We released a game called Overflow this past November (go and download it! You can find the link on appaneer.com).

I also started to go to hackathons, where I have worked on projects such as creating a web app that works with Amazon Alexa and a Pebble Watch to help people with Alzheimer’s, and an app that tracks a person’s emotions through journal entries using IBM Watson’s tone analyzer. I am also the Team Development leader on my school’s FIRST robotics team, the MidKnight Inventors, and a FIRST lego league mentor. This past year I was also a recipient of the NCWIT National Award for Aspirations for Computing, and had the honor to travel to Charlotte and meet 49 remarkable women who also love STEM.
Apart from the technical side of my life, I am also a distance runner for my school’s cross country and track and field teams. I love the team and have been running with them since fall of my freshmen year. I also love to travel, and have been to over 40 countries with my family.
Fun fact: Every vacation I go on I look for cool patterns or textures on the ground and take photos of my feet. I’m planning to create a montage with them to remember all the cool places I’ve been to over the past few years.


What # would define your life journey?


Favorite website / app:
The app I use the most is definitely Facebook. I follow a lot of tech pages such as Tech Insider and NowThis Future, and their posts and videos continuously excite and inspire me. I also use Telegram a lot to message my friends.
In terms of tech tools I am currently learning how to use phonegap and Firebase, and I think they are really convenient tools that greatly improve the development process, especially if you want your app to be across different devices. The site codecademy is also an amazing tool to improve improve your skills, except recently they added a pro subscription to you can’t skip all the basic lessons which is really annoying.


Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
A lot of people inspire me. Tech giants such as Mark Zuckerberg (make sure you watch The Social Network!) and Elon Musk are definitely inspirations. But I think the person that inspires me the most is my twin brother, Greg. Even though we fight a lot as all siblings do, I know we will always have each others back. Greg and I are also passionate in completely different things. While I am interested in STEM, Greg is interested in politics and business and is like a living atlas. He literally knows everything about current events and about the various histories and statistics (such as population and GDP) of so many countries. He is also a “MUN god” and is constantly writing position papers and going to conferences. With random remarks, long political conversations and making fun of me about not knowing “obvious facts” such as the population on Hong Kong, Greg teaches me a lot about what is going on in the world and has really expanded my view. His world view really inspires me to try to keep up with current events, and to learn more about other cultures.
He is also currently working on an app called Coffee Break, so I just want to give him a shout out for that (http://appcoffeebreak.com). His entrepreneurial spirit has inspired me to pursue creating a startup myself. So to all the siblings reading this: even though your brothers/sisters can be annoying at times, they shape your life in so many good ways.


Song that makes you want to dance:
“Remix to Ignition” by R. Kelly and “Keep Your Head Up” by Andy Grammer


Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
A challenge I have faced is definitely commitment. Running takes up a large part of my life, and following my passion of technology is sometimes very hard with my commitment to the team and my coach. Going to events such as hackathons and finding time to pursue personal projects in conjunction with practice and other commitments, such as homework and family time, is brain wracking. But it is a good type of brain wracking. Even though my coach often gets mad at me for not being able to attend practice, I have so much respect for him and his commitment to every runner on the team and to the sport itself, and will always remember the lessons he taught me. So I guess even though juggling running and academics is a challenge, it is a challenge that has definitely shaped my life for the better. I have made some of the best friends I could have ever wished for, learned how to manage my time better, and am on track (haha no pun intended) to getting that beach body in time for summer.


Ideal Job:
My ideal job out of college would be working as a tech executive in a groundbreaking company such as Google or Amazon (ok fine, that is really dreaming but who knows?). I would love to work with technology in an amazing office, but at the same time even though I love coding I don’t want to be sitting at my computer all day. I love to talk to people and to see what others are doing in the tech world. So after gaining a once in a lifetime experience in an amazing company such as Google, I would like to venture out into the world of entrepreneurship and start my own company.

Another fun fact: I once snuck into the Google NYC offices. I followed some googlers in and got a fancy type of water, and was in awe at how the offices are decorated. Sorry Google!


What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Never feel stupid about yourself. Let’s face it – coding is hard, and most of the time it just doesn’t make any sense. But don’t let a small hiccup ruin computer science for you. Once you push through a problem you learn so many valuable skills along the way – skills not only in technology but in problem solving and in courage. And one day you will learn enough to make your own app or to grow and idea, and who knows, maybe to even change the world. And even the most experienced programmers face obstacles, and can spend years building their idea. It took Larry Page and Sergey Brin years or research to develop the revolutionary search engine we know all around the world, and it took Mark Zuckerberg hours of coding to launch Facebook. All undoubtedly faced brain block and had to learn a lot along the way to make their ideas into a reality. So remember, everyone who codes struggles. So don’t be intimidated when you run into problems, we are all in this together.
Also, go to hackathons! They are an amazing opportunity to learn how to code, improve your skills, make friends, and get some cool swag. And if you don’t know how to code, learn on Codecademy! As long as you learn the basics you can then go look at tutorials and use sites such as Stack Overflow to learn everything you need to make your idea a reality.
Feel free to message me on Facebook if you need any help whatsoever! And if you are looking for a hackathon buddy in the tri-state area, hit me up 🙂

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