Senior Year Highlights

For the past nine months I’ve known where I would be living and working post-graduation, and that’s allowed me to stress less and enjoy life and Bryn Mawr more. This has especially been true this past week, as I’ve been participating in Senior Week with the class of 2018. I went on the famous Boat Cruise, sailing around with classmates as well as professors and staff on the Spirit of Philadelphia. I also went on the New York trip and to La Peg for senior cocktails, eating and drinking to our hearts’ content.

Me, Rachel Xu, Stephanie Cao, and Ziting Shen (all ’18) on the cruise

As senior year winds down, I’m reflecting on how the days have been long, but the years short. This year has been more relaxing than most (probably because I haven’t had to worry about post-graduation or summer plans since August) and continued working for the same company over the school year. Here are some of my favorite parts from my senior year.

  • Competing with the table tennis team in NCTTA regionals and making it to Nationals in Texas. Biggest regret of college? Not joining the table tennis team sooner! We all got really close really fast, and it was a blast traveling with them. I got better alongside  everyone and also with Coach Dan, and I’m excited to continue those skills in tech company tournaments and leagues.

    Getting low for a ball versus Penn

  • Traveling to New York City, DC, Boston, and Montreal for work trips. I was fortunate to travel to San Francisco from New York three times for work this summer, but that was to a place I knew. I liked traveling to events, mentoring, and giving demos during the school year in new places so I could explore more. I’m already applying to speak at conferences and events next year, and plan on visiting Bryn Mawr if I’m ever in the area.

    Demoing Twilio at Wellesley Hack

  • Winning my first hackathon prize at Y-Hack and seeing high school friends there. I was a finalist at a competition the summer before sophomore year, but I’d never actually won anything! In New Haven, I caught up with friends and won best use of the Viacom Data-Point API!
  • Going to the Eagles Parade when they won the Super Bowl. The atmosphere and community was amazing, and I know I won’t get that anywhere else.

    Me, Rachel Bruce’18, Devica Bhutani’18, Hannah Terz’18

    Celebrating in the Campus Center

  • Going to Villanova when they won March Madness. Again, it was crazy to see the spirit and excitement on Lancaster Ave.

    me, Abby, and Mariam celebrating

  • Visiting New York more often to see shows and events like Waitress, Once on this Island, and the Broadway Princess Party. It’s only two hours away, so I jumped at the chance to visit with friends, Bryn Mawr Activities, and see my work team.

    Laura Osnes (Cinderella, Grease, Bandstand, Bonnie and Clyde, etc.)

  • Thesising on a project that I loved and wanted to do (I’m still continuing work on it!) Thesis is over, it’s submitted, and I’m waiting for a grade, but that does not mean work needs to stop on the overall project. That’s one thing I like about code: you can always add on, iterate, and improve.
  • Banter Blogging! I stopped shelving in Canaday Library because I began doing contract work for my internship-turned-full-time job that involved code and travel and also had gotten the Banter Blogger position. It has been really neat to write about life on-campus, different events and activities, classes, and more. I’ve loved getting feedback from professors, classmates, and people I barely know who say they read something I wrote that resonated with them or was interesting. I’ll use some of these skills next year when I go back to blogging for the Twilio company blog!
  • Senior traditions! I loved Bedtime Stories and Senior Strut at the end of Hell Week, May Day’ing gifts down, ringing Taylor Bell once I finished my last assignment or final, and now Senior Week activities like a cruise, cocktails, Six Flags, a brewery tour, a trip to New York, and more.

    Story time in Pem East when I read the Giving Tree

I’m now preparing for a quick trip to Paris and the French Open, as well as a cross-country road trip depending on a tax law that could affect my work relocation stipend (if you have any recommendations, do reach out!) I hope to see classmates and friends across the country.


Grand May Day 2018: A New Perspective

One reason I chose Bryn Mawr over other women’s colleges was because I thought the traditions sounded cooler. Though much has changed in four years, I still believe that statement to be true.

A lot of traditions are focused on first years, but May Day has some neat aspects just for seniors. The night before May Day, seniors run around campus “May Day-ing” gifts down to non-seniors, leaving items outside their doors. Some are items passed down to us years before, and some are items we choose to start passing down.

Holding bags of May Day gifts and a stuffed monkey to “May Day” down

I felt like Santa Claus carrying large bags of goods with tags as classmates with suitcases did the same. I thought of the items that had been passed down to me, and thought of items that others would like, and tried to make each one meaningful.


Some May Day gifts outside my hell-grandchild My Nguyen’s door







At 7am Sunday morning, seniors walked to the President’s House to wake up KCass. Following the parade, students ran around the May Pole for their class year, tying different-colored ribbons around it. That’s one of my favorite parts of May Day–it’s fun, funny, fast-paced, and exhilarating.

Marching in the parade



Finally came another just-for-seniors activity: hoop racing. Many students inherited hoops as May Day gifts (I inherited a computer science one from my hell mother) and students walked or ran with them down Senior Row following KCass.

At the end of Senior Row and hoop racing with Devica Bhutani’18




There were concerts, shows, games, and activities throughout the day, but one of my favorite parts of May Day always includes lounging around on Merion Green, soaking up the sun and seeing friends and classmates dressed in white.






Finally, at 8 p.m. came Step Sing. This has become one of my favorite parts of traditions as I’ve grown closer to classmates and thus grown comfortable singing aloud. Songs include ones like Lean on MeThis is what Dreams are Made of (from the Lizzie McGuire movie)Survive, and more. It’s very empowering and fun to belt songs out, and seeing it all happen from the Senior Steps made it more so.

The view from Senior Steps of College Hall for Step Sing

Selfie on the Senior Steps with our songbooks and lanterns









At the conclusion of the night came Good Nights where seniors walked through a long, windy line of non-senior classmates holding their lanterns and singing the good night song. This is one of the most emotional parts because usually seniors are the last ones to walk through as we say good night to non-seniors and also because this was our last one ever! Many began crying after seeing certain friends in line and realizing that they won’t be here next year. Following good nights, the juniors crashed the Senior Steps for the first time, and then many seniors walked their hellchildren in the junior class down Senior Row as our hell-parents had done only a year ago.

I thought of my hell mom and hell grandmother who are both software engineers in Mountain View, my hell grandmother who is working on her electrical engineering Ph.D. at UCLA, and my adopted hell mother who is a software engineer in Boston. I thought of my own hell child, my adopted one, my hell grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I thought of past, present, and future, and how traditions bring everyone together.

Next year, I’ll attend an alumnae May Day celebration (most likely with old classmates and my hell family in the area). It won’t be the same, but it’s time for the next class and generation to be the seniors. As senior co-president Ann Tran put it, Bryn Mawr traditions are dynamic. They change as the student body changes, and it’s time for new seniors to come in and for the class of 2022 to take over my Dark Blue color.

The computer science hoop (started in 2008) passed on to me from my hell mom Jordan Henck’17 last year. Now, it’s with Kennedy Ellison’19.

My main hope is that I’ve left my mark here, whether it’s been through traditions like hell family or May Day gifts, as a Teaching Assistant or Banter Blogger, as a tennis or table tennis player, or simply as a student.

Watching the Class of 2019 crash the Senior Steps.


Thesis Presentations

I gave my thesis presentation with the rest of the computer science majors (below.)

At Bryn Mawr, we have what some would call a mantra: “done is good.” In a community of perfectionists, it can be difficult to let go and stop working on something, even if we are passionate about that something. It was tough to focus on my thesis presentation when I wanted to keep working on the apps even though I had already submitted, so it did not matter.

The resemblance between us (me below) is uncanny (kidding.)

Demoing my iOS app (web app hosted on

As I watched all the thesis presentations (I was the first one to go), it was really neat to see how far everyone took their projects since we first began talking about them in Senior Seminar in late January. It was also cool to think of how far we’ve come since freshman year. I met Kara and Rachel in CMSC110 and went to my first hackathon with Rachel and Lexie. It’s crazy to see how things turned out, and that we all stuck together for so long.

Xuan Huang examining meshes in Game of Thrones

Lexie Zhang and Rachel Xu discussing Liquid Haskell

Kara Breeden thesising on robotics










Post-thesis picnic with (L-R) My Nguyen’20, Kennedy Ellison’19, Kara Breeden’18, Kellie Dinh’19











It was also a nice ending to celebrate the conclusion of theses with the department and classmates from other classes (mainly sophomores and juniors) who will be thesising soon. I remember seeing senior thesis presentations both last year and two years ago, thinking the seniors were so smart, cool, and accomplished! I hope those who watched our presentations thought the same.



Game Masters at the Franklin Institute

Need a break from finals? Check out the Game Masters exhibit at the Franklin Institute, about a fifteen-minute walk from either Suburban Station or 30th Street Station in Philly. It’s so close, and is worth the 20-minute train ride into the city!

Attendees can play over 100 different video games, ranging from arcade ones of the 70’s and 80’s to more modern web and console games. Familiar characters and games included Sonic, Star Wars, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Centipede, and more, and there were also concept art, interviews, clips, and biographies of the designers and developers of the games themselves. I’ve never considered myself much of a gamer, but my friend Kara Breeden’18 (pictured below) is and she recognized many of the games which her family owns.

Kara playing Pac Man

Kara playing Donkey Kong










We also enjoyed playing more modern games like Sims, Rock Band, and a Dance Dance Revolution-type game. One of my favorites was Gee Bee by Namco, an arcade game, released in 1978 designed by Tōru Iwatani, who would later create the more well-known Pac-Man. It was almost a combination of pinball and Pong, but with a unique controller. (below)

Cee Gee

Sega driving game

Video game concept art


















Don’t worry, our trip was also educational! Many games had old-fashioned graphics and styles that reminded me of some topics we had talked about in my computer graphics course with Professor Dianna Xu. Similarly, there were text-based games like ones we had made for CMSC240 Computer Organization (however, ours were written in Assembly language and did not have the nice User Interface!)

Text-based computer game

Overall, this exhibit is a great way to blow off steam, learn about the history of some games, have fun while challenging others and yourself, and seeing games that your parents grew up with as well as ones you yourself grew up with.

Asian, Hawaiian-Inspired Food on the Main Line

As we enter the final weeks of classes, stress levels are at an all-time high. Prospective students and their families have seen me when I feel like I’m a mess! I believe it’s important to practice self-care, and also to take breaks. This weekend, self-care meant exploring Bryn Mawr (the town) as well as Ardmore, which is right next to Haverford. On Saturdays, the Blue Bus goes straight to Ardmore’s Suburban Square, which is home to lots of shops, restaurants, and cafes.

I explored Yi’s Boba, a new milk tea place (and the only one on the Main Line, I believe), with friends Kennedy Ellison ’19 and Sujin Kay (HC ’19).

Sujin’s pear tea

Plant aesthetic










There could have been more seating, but it could just be very popular because it’s new. The service and tea was good, and I’ll be back to try their rolled ice cream once the weather warms up! It’s right near the Ardmore Music Hall (note: the Google Maps address is incorrect) and very walkable from Trader Joe’s, Sephora, and Sweetgreen.

The next day, I went to Pho Street, located right off-campus, for some noodles and fried rice with Sydney Kim ’20 and Francesca Caramazza ’20. It reminded us of home (Boston for Sydney and Francesca), and was a nice respite from the daily dining hall grind. The broth was rich and the portions were large.


Francesca and Sydney by Shipley School on the walk back.











Before graduation, I hope to try the new Hawaiian-inspired poké (pronounced poh-kay) restaurant in Ardmore, PokéOno.

Share your favorite Main Line restaurants in the comments!

Film, Philosophy, STEM: I Want it All

One of the best parts of going home on breaks has been telling people who knew me before college that I’m majoring in computer science. The look on their faces is PRICELESS because I was never a STEM person growing up; instead, I thrived in the Humanities, loving History and English and wanting to be a teacher for roughly eight years.

This semester, I’m taking two Humanities classes for fun. One of them is a philosophy class called Science, Technology, and Culture, taught by Professor Collin Rice whom I

Loving my second class with Professor Rice.

had Intro to Logic with last year. Did you know Philosophy of Science is a thing? I wish I’d known about it sooner, as it’s really interesting. In the class, we talk about topics like nature versus nurture, innateness, and twin studies, among others. As a Humanities-turned-STEM-person, I now see how my twin brother was nurtured towards STEM growing up as that’s where he thrived.



My twin brother, me, and our dad.

Fraternal twins on the T-Ball Twins.









The class recently discussed Larry Summers’ claims about how women are innately inferior to men in STEM subjects. Nearly everyone in my class had strong opinions on the topic, and we realized that society led to men’s brains being typically (but not always) better at numbers-based tasks because women were historically confined to the house and childcare. At least some things can be TAUGHT because they’re not innate.

Larry Summers, former Harvard President.

The other class I’m really enjoying is Professor Shiamin Kwa‘s Films of Wong Kar Wai, a Chinese film class on a well-known arthouse director. It’s neat to watch all of the films made by one director in the order he directed them, taking note of his idiosyncrasies across films and seeing how he grew with experience.

Professor Kwa, queen. (If you can’t tell, I highly recommend taking a course with her before you graduate.)


I won’t spoil too much, but he has a thing for using clocks and time, the same actors, certain food like pineapple or pie, long panning shots, interesting use of color, and more. The class has had some amazing discussions and I look forward to them and our film screenings each week.

Wong Kar Wai, one of my new favorite directors after this semester.








Honestly? I love the freedom of being able to take both STEM and Humanities courses in college. Some other favorites I’ve taken have included Sociology of Harry Potter and Romance to Bromance, which I took both of in my sophomore Spring. It’s really neat to see overlap between classes and work experience, like how I’ve been able to cite research on emotions from my thesis in both Science, Mind, and Culture and the Films of Wong Kar Wai this semester.

Recently, Silicon Valley engineers have come under fire for not understanding ethics or their user base. The primary reason? They didn’t take enough Humanities courses in college as the majority of them did not have the freedom to take classes outside their engineering majors. Luckily, that won’t be a problem for my classmates and me.

March Madness: Celebrating our Lancaster Ave. Neighbors

Fun fact: the first time a boy called my home landline was in first grade to bet on our March Madness brackets. Needless to say, my mom was not impressed, but she’d be happy to know that I have not bet on sports since then (though I still fill out a bracket every year).

Students on-campus at Bryn Mawr follow March Madness in different ways. Some go to local bars or restaurants to watch, cheering on their hometown or favorite teams. On Saturday night, I went to local Gullifty’s (about a ten-minute walk from campus) with some friends to watch Villanova take on Kansas. It was a great game, and the atmosphere of the restaurant was crazy. My friend Abby Brewster ’18 and the other Kansas fan there bonded over their shared support for what was considered the opposing team. I’d recommend the appetizers and drinks at Gullifty’s, and the service was great.

“Trusting the process” at Gulifty’s with Mariam Haider ’18, Abby Brewster ’18. Picture by Kara Breeden ’18

Gullifty’s bar and TV setup.








On Monday night, students watched Villanova take on Michigan in the final in our Campus Center, organized by my friend Devica Bhutani ’18.

“V” for Villanova in the Campus Center with Rachel Terry, Devica Bhutani, and Mariam Haider (all ’18)

As soon as Villanova won, we ran to drop off our bags in our dorms, get bigger coats, and ran over to Lancaster Ave. where we expected many people to be celebrating. The celebration was much larger when Villanova won two years ago, but this year, Villanova had an Easter holiday around March Madness final time, so we had to walk about twenty minutes to Villanova’s campus to see the celebration. We saw Haverford people as well, and it was honestly a highlight of my senior year walking there with classmates and friends around midnight.

It was an amazing feeling to laugh and cry amongst friends and classmates as we watched a neighboring college win the NCAA men’s basketball championship for the second time in three years. It felt almost like our own school had won, and though I’m sad I could not attend the Villanova parade, I’m so happy for Philadelphia again.

Senior Dinner with President KCass

Two things happened this week that made me wake up and realize, “Hey. I have a little over a month left of college. I need to make the most of it.”

  1. I submitted the second draft of my thesis Developing Applications to Compare Methods of Teaching Emotions. (more on that in this blog post.)
  2. I attended my Senior Dinner.

The Senior Dinner is an unofficial tradition unique to Bryn Mawr. Seniors are given the option to attend one of three dinners with our president, Kim Cassidy (lovingly known as KCass), taking place at the President’s House, Pen-y-Groes.

Pretty plates in the President’s House!

Outside the President’s House with Devica Bhutani, Zhoe Rub, Mariam Haider, Mian Horvath, and Abby Brewster.







Way back in September 2014, we had an ice cream social for first years at the President’s House. It was neat to come full-circle and be back almost four years later. As I’ve seen in Professor Shiamin Kwa’s Films of Wong Kar Wai class this semester (more on that amazing course here), this is an interesting film technique: characters are in the same place, but in different stages or places of their lives. Yeah, I got emotional and pensive.

It was neat to talk with our own President, something that probably does not happen at most colleges. I may have fangirled a bit when she sat down next to me and right off-the-bat asked about our tennis match versus her alma mater Swarthmore the day before. We learned about her childhood (her parents were both teachers) and how she completed all the pre-med requirements at Swat before realizing she, too, wanted to teach. KCass also played tennis her first semester of college (#twinsies)!

A lifelong Philadelphia sports fan, my friend Devica bonded with KCass over the 76ers’ recent wins and Villanova’s recent championship. It’s neat to be able to get to know our President so personally, and I’m grateful for her time.

Though I’m hard at work finishing up my thesis and with tennis season, you bet I’ll be making the most of the next few weeks of senior year.



Bringing it all Together: My Senior Thesis

The Computer Science major offers two options to seniors: make a senior thesis or make a senior project. A thesis is typically more theoretical and involves research, and a project is typically more hands-on. Mine is interesting because it is a combination of both.

When I was in fifth grade, I volunteered at a local school for kids with disabilities called Bridge School, and then in high school I volunteered with Special Olympics and at the Stanbridge Academy for students with “mild to moderate learning differences and social communication disorders” where my mom works in the library. All of those experiences (as well as watching the TV show the Good Doctor) inspired me to want to develop applications to help people on the Autism spectrum.

The Good Doctor show, about a doctor with Asperger’s.

My mom sent me this image of a poster at her school meant to teach students to recognize and identify emotions, and that poster gave me the idea to digitize and gamify that very same design.

I’ve developed a series of web applications to teach emotions. The first web app uses static images, the second one uses gifs, and the third one uses video with sound. Each app has different levels (identifying emotions, guessing what someone might be thinking, and responding to a face), and I am currently working to see which type of graphic is better suited towards teaching emotions. I’m also working on an iOS application, but that has a separate login system and database.

A gif and chart show how a user performs after each level.

Early version of the iOS app







It’s been really neat to take this idea from the design sketch below, to the current version hosted on Digital Bryn Mawr at, where students can make their own personal websites or web applications. You can help me by going to that link above and answering the questions yourself! (although they are designed for people on the spectrum.)

This was my initial design sketch!

I’ve never done a project of this scale before, so I’ve learned a lot about organizing and cleaning up code, implementing a variety of APIs (I use Twilio, PubNub, Cloudinary, and Giphy), as well as different languages and libraries (I use Python, Swift, JavaScript and JQuery, HTML and CSS, and more. I’m so grateful to my Senior Seminar advisor and the department chair Dianna Xu, my thesis advisor and Haverford professor John Dougherty, and my classmates who have reviewed and edited my (now thirty-page) paper.

I can’t believe I’ll be presenting my thesis in a few weeks! Time to get back to it. What was your senior thesis?

Running from my Problems: #PhillyLoveRun

I joke I have to pay to participate in a half-marathon because no one could pay me to do it otherwise. I went with some friends from Bryn Mawr, but we were in different flights. Here are some things I learned and thought as I ran through Philly in the 2018 Philly Love Run.

Post-run celebration with Stephanie Cao’18

  1. When your legs get tired, run with your heart. Long-distance running is very mental. The first two miles were so cold, I was thinking, “I can’t do this. I should have trained outside.” The next seven had me thinking, “I can do this.” The following two had me running for my grandmother who can’t run, and my old middle school teacher and coach who recently passed away. The thought of them kept me going.
  2. It was really neat to see people of all ages, backgrounds, and body sizes running or walking the half marathon. It was empowering and made me keep going when I wanted to stop.
  3. It’s all about goal-setting. The announcer near the starting line talked about runners from around the world and country, some of whom were trying to run a half-marathon in every state. That’s a new bucket list item of mine.
  4. Don’t chase the competition, chase the dream: It’s all about making yourself better. Everyone starts at different times even if you’re in the same flight, so when you pass someone or run past, it is unclear who is running faster. Instead, you must focus on yourself and yourself only: you are trying to get your best time.
  5. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. I paced myself slowly, worried that my legs would suddenly fail me. By the time I realized I had enough energy left in my tank, it was almost too late. I finished the last mile in roughly 9:27, sprinting past runners who had passed me a while ago because I had paced myself. Similarly post-run, I got all-you-can-eat-sushi with some other Bryn Mawr runners. In order to maximize our sushi consumption, we paced ourselves. See? Running is applicable to real-life situations!

I’m on a running high!

I’m still sore from the run, but I’m not sorry I did it: I set a PR (personal record) of 2:30:00, with a fairly consistent time for each mile, hovering around 11:26. I loved seeing parts of Philly I wouldn’t otherwise see (the Strawberry Mansion, one hill in Fairmount Park, and more), and ones I do sometimes see (Boathouse Row, Eakins Oval, the Philadelphia Art Museum, and more). This experience will only make me better and stronger both in school, in work, and in life. I’ll see you on the trails or running paths!