When Computer Science major Mitali Palekar graduates next month, she can start a new chapter as a software engineer at LinkedIn knowing that she has made a difference in the community she has called home for the past four years. An accomplished student researcher, mentor and campus leader, Palekar has combined her love of programming and a passion for diversity to elevate the voices of students around her and help build a more welcoming and inclusive community within the field of computing.
A 2019 Husky 100 honoree and former TUNE House scholar, Palekar was most recently featured as GeekWire’s Geek of the Week for her many achievements during her time as a University of Washington student. These include serving as a past president and adviser to the UW chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, peer adviser and mentor for students in the Allen School, College of Engineering, and Interdisciplinary Honors Program, and a research assistant in the Allen School’s Security and Privacy Research Lab. She has also taken multiple opportunities to apply what she has learned through internships at Facebook, LinkedIn, Uber, and Stripe, and as a contributor to Bottomline, a compensation analytics startup that advanced to the Sweet 16 of the regional Dempsey Startup Competition hosted by the UW’s Buerk Center for entrepreneurship.
While she enjoys tackling technical challenges and exploring entrepreneurial opportunities, Palekar is particularly eager to use her position and experience to smooth the way for others. “I hope to play my role in improving representation, inclusion and belonging of underrepresented minorities in technology, ensuring that we continue to hone different sorts of talent and perspectives in tech,” Palekar told GeekWire. “Computer science can be for everyone.”
Palekar goes on to say that she draws inspiration from her parents for their hard work coupled with kindness, and from the “strong, fearless and passionate young women” among her friends, roommates and fellow technologists. They would, no doubt, be eager to return the compliment.