It is an honor to introduce myself as a STEM Pathway nominee for the 14th Annual Women Tech Awards. As a 26-year-old woman pursuing my undergraduate degree in Data Science, this nomination affirms that my efforts are visible and worthwhile.
I never imagined myself being where I am today. After dropping out of a liberal arts college, I lived in a 1995 Volvo sedan as a street musician. In 2019, as an elementary school music teacher, I took my first programming course. This motivated me to return to college, but I lacked confidence. My highest level of education in math was basic algebra. Personal trauma also negatively impacted my belief that I could be successful. Notwithstanding, I completed a multivariable calculus course in Fall 2020 and entered the Data Science major. Today, I am a teaching assistant for the School of Computing and a research assistant at the Geoscience and Engineering Institute.
The research I have been involved in at the University of Utah is central to my efficacy as a woman in STEM. During the 2020 General Election, I noticed a need to make political participation more accessible, efficient, and motivating for young voters. To address this issue, I pursued funding to develop an automated system that collects bills from the Utah State Legislature and generates summaries of those bills using natural language processing methods. The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program funded my project this summer. I will be submitting an abstract about my findings for the 2022 Utah Conference of Undergraduate Research. I am collaborating with other computer science students to integrate these findings, along with statistics on Utah politicians, into a mobile application. This experience is contributing to my personal and academic growth. After graduation, I plan to pursue my Ph.D. in Data Science.