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Rakshya Sharma: Undergraduate Student

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Degree Program: Computer Science, B.S., Bioinformatics minor

Department: Computer Science and Engineering

Hometown: Bhaktapur, Nepal (immigrated to USA in 2015)

Rakshya Sharma: Undergraduate Student

“The best part of being an engineering major is always having the opportunity to be creative.”

This is one of five profiles spotlighting current and former transfer students as part of Baskin Engineering’s celebration of National Transfer Week, October 17–21, 2022.

Rakshya Sharma is a computer science major and bioinformatic minor. Her expected graduation date is spring 2024. She transferred to UC Santa Cruz from Ohlone College, located in Fremont, CA.

What has your transfer student experience been like?

I transferred to UC Santa Cruz in fall 2021. I was attracted to UCSC because of the community of people who are here to help students succeed. In the beginning, it was intimidating to be part of a top research university with its huge class sizes in contrast to the much smaller classes at my community college. But I was welcomed by an amazing group of people here, and the orientation introduced me to different resources available to me specifically as a transfer student and a student parent. I was able to join the STARS community which supported me to transition from community college to UC. I was also part of the AAPIRC Bridge to Success Program, which introduced me to important campus resources and provided me with a safe space to build community. I was grateful to learn that I always had people here to support me. I could ask questions about anything and reach out for help. This really helped me to find opportunities on campus that excelled my academic journey.

I became part of the Baskin Engineering Multicultural Engineering Program (MEP), which introduced me to a community of other students and provided resources such as advising. I was also able to access academic support for my classes through the ACE program. I found out about the RMI scholarship program early on when I transferred here. I applied and was selected as a RMI scholar. With RMI, I was able to join a lab and receive training in world-class, cutting-edge research the same quarter I transferred here. I am a junior research trainee in the Brooks Lab, where I am identifying RNA splicing signatures using a computational tool called MESA (Mutually Exclusive Splicing Analysis), created by the Brooks lab.

The research experience and the support I received from my mentors in my lab and RMI program helped me grow as a scientist and explore science in other parts of the country. This past summer, I was a part of the Broad Summer Research program in Boston, where I worked with experts at Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard to detect pathogenic variants of Spinal Muscular Atrophy using Whole Exome Sequencing data. This opportunity further confirmed my aspiration to become a scientist. I feel thankful to the amazing group of people here who have supported me in every part of my journey being a transfer student and providing me with great experiences. This has allowed me to grow not only academically but also personally. I am grateful for all the experiences I have received just in a year at UCSC, and I am excited for all the opportunities and adventures to come in the upcoming years.

What made you decide to be a part of Baskin Engineering? 

Baskin Engineering’s interdisciplinary programs are top notch, and the open collaborative environment fosters opportunities for students. The faculty in Baskin Engineering are inspiring and are leaders in their field. They are renowned for their active cutting-edge research and they are eager to teach students. My main reason to be part of Baskin Engineering was to have the opportunity to learn from these experts in their field. Another reason was the opportunity to be involved in hands-on research and a collaborative and supportive environment.

What do you like best about being an engineering major?

The best part of being an engineering major is problem solving and critical thinking. You have to really think out of the box and the skill set you gain from your program prepares you for it. As an engineering major, the problems are not problems anymore. You start viewing each one as a challenge and an opportunity to grow as you stretch your imagination and creativity. So, for me, the best part of being an engineering major is always having the opportunity to be creative.

What advice would you give to other transfer students who are interested in joining Baskin Engineering? 

Baskin engineering has opportunities for every student to thrive and learn. Look out for those opportunities and don’t be afraid to ask questions. People here want to see you succeed both academically and in your personal journey as a student. There are a lot of resources at your disposal here at UCSC, both academic and non-academic. Find your community and build your support system! The faculty here at Baskin Engineering are amazing and they are really there to support you. 

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