How do you like the environment of UCSC?
I like it because it’s very relaxed, and people cooperate here which is something you don’t see very much on campuses that are cutthroat. We’re competitive, but not in a toxic way. I’m a third year and I work in two different labs—the ASSIST Lab with Sri Kurniawan and the Tech4Good Lab with David Lee, they really want to help people. I also do grading for a class which is fun, and I get involved when I can. I’m also the corporate liaison for the Society of Women Engineers here at UCSC.
What keeps you motivated in school?
Well, if you do well in school, you get a good job, you get money—it’s all really incorporated. I’m considering graduate school right now, but I’m not sure yet. If I get a job, I’ll start as a developer and just start working my way up. I’m leaning towards natural language processing as a field or artificial intelligence, which I know is a hot-button topic, but it’s something I’m really passionate about. I speak three languages and have been bi-lingual for the majority of my life, and I know speaking languages and linguistics are not equivalent, but when you’re learning and constantly forget the word for something and can’t translate it, Google Translate is a savior. That got me thinking that I should be creating tools like that for a living. Not just that, but I feel like this path is interdisciplinary enough to incorporate both the humanities and STEM. There are a lot of technical aspects to apps like these, but there are many human elements too; computers are good with math, but communication is different. Calculating the trajectory of a rocket is cool, but can your computer carry on a conversation without someone noticing to pass the Turing Test?
What do you like to do beyond campus?
Sometimes I play Magic: The Gathering, I read a lot because it’s peaceful and takes my mind off things, I love music. I like alternative rock most of the time, but I also like listening to music in other languages like French with some modern artists like Stromae. I just got done reading Fast Food Nation too, talking about how the fast food industry has shaped our society, and I try to read in other languages as well if I’m feeling ambitious. I actually taught myself how to read in Farsi, and now I can read around a sixth grade level. I play piano too; I actually have a key to the Crown/Merrill piano room. When I’m stressed, it can help to just play piano.