This month’s Allen School Undergrad Spotlight features Eunia Lee, a third year, direct admission computer science major from Sammamish, Washington. Lee is an Allen School Ambassador and chair of the University of Washington’s chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). Through her service, she aims to show young women in high school and those just starting out in computer science that they can be leaders in the tech world.
Allen School: Why did you choose to major in computer science?
Eunia Lee: I never thought about pursuing computer science. Throughout high school I was interested in chemistry and biology, so I planned to pursue something in either field. During my junior year I took an introductory computer science class — mainly to fulfill a graduation requirement. Something about the projects and the concepts stood out to me more than in any other class before. Even outside of the classroom, I would be thinking about a problem I was stuck on so that, as soon as I got to a computer, I could try out different solutions. When I eventually was admitted to UW, I was given the amazing opportunity to come to the Paul G. Allen School as a direct admit. Soon after I arrived, I knew I made the right choice.
Allen School: What do you find most enjoyable about being an Allen School student?
EL: There’s a lot I love about the Allen School and its community — the courses, the opportunities and the labs. Ultimately, I think what makes these aspects so special are the people behind them. The past courses I’ve taken have had such amazing lecturers and teaching assistants that truly make learning a great experience. I used to be someone who didn’t like talking during office hours or in a small classroom, but now I feel comfortable asking questions and even making mistakes. The Allen School advising team and staff are always working incredibly hard and care so much about our program, which is evident in many ways. Also, my peers are such impressive people who amaze me with their accomplishments and passions every day. These people make me excited to be a part of such a vibrant community!
Allen School: What inspired you to volunteer with the Allen School Ambassadors, and what keeps you active in the program three years later?
EL: When I first came to UW, I heard about the Ambassadors. It sounded like a perfect opportunity for me, because I loved to tutor others when I was in high school and wanted to share my experiences with computing. With the group, I’ve been a part of various events like teaching elementary students how to program mini robots and leading processing workshops in the Allen Center on Saturdays throughout the year.
For me personally, it’s amazing to see high school students I have met at career fairs or workshops eventually become students at the Allen School. Up until college, I never had any female role models in computer science. One of my goals for our outreach is to actively change that experience for other women who may have never considered computing for their future.
Allen School: What do you hope to accomplish through your leadership role at ACM?
EL: With the encouragement of fellow ambassadors who were involved in ACM, I decided to apply to be a social event coordinator my freshman year. Although at times it was crazy and busy, the memories I made and the people I met made it worth the ups and downs. That experience led me to apply to be chair for the current school year.
As a member of the ACM leadership team, I enjoy being able to drive what kind of events we have and the purpose behind them. In the beginning of my time at UW, I struggled to navigate and balance all of my interests. To help students who might share that feeling, ACM has lots of programs and events to guide students in many aspects. Our hope with ACM is that we provide resources to all students, and I highly encourage my peers to come out to events that sound exciting to them.
Allen School: Who or what inspires you in the Allen School?
Many of my peers are doing amazing things in research, internships, classes or volunteering. When I first came to the Allen School, I was unsure of what it meant to be a woman studying computer science and how my identity could impact the way I was perceived by others. There were times where I felt unsure of whether I was meant to pursue a future in the tech industry, but because of those around me, I continued and I’m so thankful for these people. My CSE 142 teaching assistant, Ivy, former lead ambassador Katherine, previous ACM officers Allison, Cheng, Silin, and Yegee, and my go-to internship guide Puja are just some of the upper-class people who cheered me on from the beginning. I hope that I can pass on their knowledge to the newer members of our community throughout the rest of my time here!
During this season of gratitude, we are particularly thankful to students like Eunia. Her commitment to giving back to our community and guiding the next generation makes her an exceptional role model for current and future Allen School students!