What’s Next?

For most of my high school and college career, I’ve always thought about what came next, and how what I was doing that day, that week, or that month contributed to what I wanted to achieve in the coming year or years. Tennis, student government, and tutoring were large parts of my middle and high school careers, so I wanted a college where I could pursue all of those. Though I haven’t stuck with two out of three of those activities, I still look ahead to the future constantly.

In college, I’ve worked on side projects to beef up my engineering resume. I’ve attended competitions and conferences to learn skills outside the classroom and to network. At the end of last summer, I had a return offer for my dream job at a dream company on a dream team (I do a field of tech called developer evangelism that involves coding demo applications to showcase possible use cases of technology, in addition to traveling, teaching, writing, judging competitions, public speaking, and serving different technical communities, among other tasks.) A question I asked a mentor and myself was, “What comes next? What if I get too comfortable? What can I possibly do after landing my dream job before I start my senior year of college if I don’t want to eventually become a manager?”

A fun app is still work: it shows realtime basketball statistics

I was genuinely curious and torn. And you know what my mentor/teammate/friend who had gone through the same dilemma said? He told me that it is not in our natures to be stationary. Once we achieve one goal, we push the next goal back. We constantly work, grind, and push ourselves.

These are traits I’ve found in classmates, teammates, professors, and alumnae I’ve met or worked with. Mawrtyrs constantly learn on the go or on the job, teaching themselves new skills unrelated to their major or field. That’s something our liberal arts background has prepared us for (me in particular: my coursework in philosophy, English, East Asian languages and cultures, sociology, math, and of course computer science, has prepared me for a job that works across disciplines.)

So what’s next? Starting in August, I’m fortunate to be paid to develop apps, travel the country and world attending and speaking at conferences and events, and write technical tutorials. I also plan on taking on an extern from Bryn Mawr or Haverford as soon as I can on Fall and Spring breaks and on training to be a tennis referee. After a few years (this goal timeline is purposefully left vague), I can see myself co-founding a tech company (inspired by my extern host, alumna Susan Morrow ’90) or becoming a Chief Technology Officer. I can also see myself quitting tech, coaching tennis, working as a line judge at professional tournaments, or helping run a professional tournament. Maybe I’ll go get an MBA, or go into animation, or become a yoga instructor.

A Bryn Mawr tech talk on animation at Pixar

Once I have my dream job, I’ll find a new dream job to work for. Though I don’t know what that will be, I do know I will live more in the moment, as I’m confident my experiences have prepared me to be prepared for anything that comes my way, and I will always be learning.

Exploring Chinatown

One of the perks of not being home in San Mateo, CA often is that my parents let me eat a lot of my favorite food when I am home. At home, there’s a wide range of ramen places to choose from, but in Philly, I had only found one: Terakawa Ramen, located in Chinatown, which always has a long line.

This past Spring Break, I spent a day in Chinatown with some of the tennis team. When Terakawa had an hour-long wait at 2:15pm, we found Megumi Ramen instead. We were seated immediately, but it would have been worth a slight wait! There was a wide variety of broths and different types of meat to choose from. It was rich and not too salty. Megumi also had vegetarian ramen, which is something my favorite ramen places in my hometown lack! The tennis team highly recommends this place in Chinatown, located at 915 Race St.

Chicken shio ramen


After eating, we walked around Chinatown. We shopped the Sanrio store for cute posters, pens, and socks, got some baozi (buns) at Saint Honore Pastries bakery (935 Race St.), and then stopped for boba tea at Tea Do before posing for a picture by the Chinatown Gate, shown below.

Teammates at Chinatown gate with our coach’s daughter

Next, we walked past Independence Hall, Declaration House, the Liberty Bell, and some other historical sites. We didn’t have practice that day, but I still got in my 15,000 steps!

I can’t wait to explore Philly again.

#BrandYou: Estee Lauder Companies Visit Bryn Mawr

On Monday, February 26, some Senior Vice Presidents of the Estee Lauder Companies visited Bryn Mawr. Many students crowded in the beautiful Rhoads Dining Hall for catered lunch and to hear from them about their experiences, jobs, and the art of branding ourselves. Here are some of my key takeaways from the great event, put on by LILAC (Leadership, Innovation, and Liberal Arts Center):

  1. “You are your own brand.” This could mean many things, but to me, it means everywhere you go, you represent a type of business: yourself. You must sell yourself and put your best self out there. What’s your brand? I know mine is tech, but also teaching, empathy, and, at times, something fun like Disney or table tennis.
  2. “Everything you touch has your name on it. Everything can be your job.” This means that you should take risks and do jobs that aren’t necessarily related to your role. SVP Lisa Napolione started out at the company as a 17-year-old intern who was studying chemical engineering. She went into research and development (R&D), and progressed upwards in the company by trying new things even if it wasn’t on her to-do list or in her job description. Everything she did or everyone she talked to helped represent who she was as a person, as an employee, and her reputation.
  3. “Your reputation is in the details.” SVP of Global Management Strategies and Chief of Staff to the President & CEO of Estee Lauder Companies, Phoebe Farrow Port, talked about frantically trying to find a lipstick freebie before an opening or product launch. Her hard work for that seemingly minute task did not go unnoticed as she helped the launch succeed and make customers happy.
  4. It’s more important to have learning agility than to know everything.” Be open to learning and growing rather than memorizing and already knowing, and don’t be intimidated by not knowing something!
  5. Companies and startups have board of directors that advise the CEO. We, as individuals, are CEOs of our own personal brand, and should have our own board of directors to mentor or advise us. You don’t need to tell them that they’re on your board of directors, of course!
  6. “Science and technology are like glue…we connect, we bond, and we join.” It was really interesting to learn about the company’s 80% women tech team, the history of the company, and what they’re doing in STEM. Yes, they have the typical team of chemists and biologists, but a growing number of software engineers to manage different online platforms and a 3D printer!

On Broadway, Princesses, Stereotypes, and Multidimensionality

Two summers ago, right before I started my first internship in a male-dominated field, my mom told me not to wear pink, not to laugh, and to just try to fit in. It took time for me to feel comfortable acting a certain way, and I even acknowledged my love of Disney and Broadway this past summer in a company blog post. Though it’s 2018, many still don’t take women seriously because of how they act or dress, like what happened to Jess in the TV show New Girl, below.

My name is Lizzie, I quote Disney almost every day, I wear pink, and I also read a lot of baseball and basketball (fiction and nonfiction) books.

A little over a year ago, I was listening to my usual mix of Broadway and Disney tunes when the YouTube recommendation algorithm suggested I watch a series of videos called the Broadway Princess Party. I didn’t really understand what that was, and only recognized a few of the singers (but all of the songs)…and I was hooked. Every actress in the Broadway Princess Party was assigned a princess (the term is loose, some were not royal but just main female characters.) Where else could someone watch the actress who played Jasmine on Broadway in Aladdin sing songs from Pocahontas? Or Moana? The sky was the limit!

This past Sunday, I made the 1.5 hour trek to New York City to see the Broadway Princess Party in-person with a friend I met in NYC this past summer. Gwen is a well-known iOS engineer and conference speaker who (like me) also happens to love Broadway, Disney, poetry, yoga, art, and the color purple. When the Broadway star singing Snow White updated the lyrics to make them more modern, “woke”, and feminist, I scanned the room and noted the diversity of audience members in attendance. I thought it was so cool to see people of all genders, backgrounds, and ages who were interested in a show called the Broadway Princess Party. (If you’re wondering, it exceeded my already-high expectations.)

A few summers ago, the #ILookLikeAnEngineer campaign took off because people didn’t believe a woman in an advertisement was an engineer, showing that even in the 21st century, people still have preconceived notions of what someone who does a certain job looks like.

I’m fortunate that I’ve never felt that I had to change myself to be taken seriously while at Bryn Mawr. Here, I’ve found friends, classmates, professors, and staff who are multi-dimensional. When I think of a computer scientist, a biochemist, or a philosopher, I think of a woman because they’re the ones I’ve been surrounded by these past four years. They all challenge stereotypes of typically-male-dominated fields.

I hope to do the same, and I’ll do it while wearing my Pride and Prejudice earrings, Mulan shirt, and panda earmuffs.

Has anyone ever misjudged you before because of preconceived stereotypes?


#FlyEaglesFly: the Eagles Parade

I was in the Campus Center with many classmates and fellow Mawrters last Sunday night as we crowded together to watch the Philadelphia Eagles’ monumental win over the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee hosts a Watch Party with food, raffles, and fun each year, but this year was different. It was a battle between students who had grown up in the area or students (like myself) who are from another state against students from New England (for the most part–and there are a lot of students from the Boston area.)

The atmosphere in the Campus Center that night was electric, fun, and intense, regardless of which team you were rooting for. I went back to my dorm and heard screaming in the halls, and fell asleep to sounds of fireworks going off. When I woke up, I saw posts from friends who had gone into Philly to watch the game and some pictures of the aftermath of the celebration.

That celebration continued throughout the week, especially with the Eagles’ celebratory Super Bowl Parade. It was such a huge event that Penn classes were canceled and SEPTA schedules were modified for the day, forcing many to find alternate forms of transportation. I spent the night at my friend Devica’s (’18) house around half an hour away with Rachel Bruce ’18, and we got up at 5:30 a.m. to be at the station at 6:20 a.m. with Hannah Terz ’18 for a 6:50 a.m. train. The line was already long when we got there, and we almost didn’t get on the train!

Line for SEPTA around 6:20am

The train went straight to Jefferson Station, and we speed-walked past Reading Terminal Market to get to Benjamin Franklin Parkway, where the parade would be going by. We waited in the cold for over five hours, but we were in the first and second rows of people, and the overall excitement, happiness, and positivity radiated off of most people there. Devica was so close, she high-fived a few players!

Overall, it’s been an eventful, spirited, and joyous week. I love the hope that seems to radiate from the city now. Even if there are more parades, they won’t be like the first one!

Off-Campus Coffee: Hot House versus Green Engine

I worked in a library for two years in high school, and volunteered there before that, so, of course, I have an affinity for libraries. Throughout college, I would study and do work in my room, in a Common Room, in Canaday Library, Dalton or College Halls, or in a CS lab in Park because they were more convenient to get to. However, I’ve begun appreciating working in coffee shops because they’re warm, welcoming, cozy (I also like coffee and tea!)

Located a short walk minutes from campus, Hot House is a perennial college favorite. It sort-of shares a door with the walkway leading up to the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, so there’s always people walking in and out. Caroline Horvatits ’20, a tennis teammate, works there, so it’s fun visiting her and seeing her make drinks. There’s always Bryn Mawr students there studying, too.

Hot House houses a few booths, bar seating, a sofa, and some table and chairs, and is very intimate.


A short Blue Bus ride or 25-minute walk away is Green Engine, a cute coffee shop near Haverford. They offer more food options, more seating (but there’s usually more people), and more sunlight. I always see Mainline Moms in there.

Stephanie Cao ’18 and Ann Tran ’18 in front of the plant wall at Green Engine.

Both places make mean lattes (among other drinks and food), but I think Green Engine is more Instagrammable with a more nature-y aesthetic, whereas Hot House is warmer and cozier. I prefer different ones on different days. Where do you like to study or get coffee?

Mon Dieu! A Weekend in Montreal

I journeyed on a one-hour flight to Montreal this past weekend on work, and got some time to explore the city. For someone who watched friends go off to different continents and countries for Study Abroad last year, it was so neat to finally travel to a different country, for the first time in almost eight years!

I could have prepared more for the weekend trip, and was surprised when I saw currency conversion machines in the airport, and lots of signs in French. I took French in middle school and high school, but still had trouble understanding people who spoke so quickly! The event I was in Montreal for was at Concordia University, which is one of two English-speaking universities in Montreal. It’s only a few blocks away from the other English-speaking school, McGill, which was where my hotel was.

I loved seeing the vibrant culture of the city. There were so many murals and so much artwork on the streets, and people were so friendly. I shook so many hands, but they weren’t meant to be a networking thing–people were genuinely friendly! It was so fun to walk around in the freezing weather soaking up the atmosphere, practicing my French, and soaking up a different culture that is not actually far from here.

I’d recommend venturing to Canada once in your four years at Bryn Mawr, particularly to Montreal as it’s not that far!

Looking Forward and Looking Back: On “Me” Time

I just started my final semester of college, and I’m feeling a lot of feelings. Since May last year, I’ve been thinking a lot about my time here at Bryn Mawr. What would I do differently, or the same? What did I enjoy the most, or enjoy the least? Who or what made my time here fun?

I noticed a general pattern: my Spring semesters have been more enjoyable than the Fall ones, for the most part (maybe it’s the flowers in bloom, or maybe it’s Hell Week or May Day?) I think this is because the classes I took in the Fall were more difficult and time-consuming. In the Fall (most of the time), I said “no” to fun things more often than I said “yes” in order to prioritize academics. I felt FOMO (fear of missing out.) I felt guilty for doing things for me, knowing that I could be using that “me” time to focus on classes I was struggling with. These are common sentiments both on campus as well as off of it–I’ve heard friends at other colleges agree here.

My favorite time of year on campus: flowers blooming.

This past Fall, however, I did more things for me. For pleasure. I watched more TV than I had since middle school, went out on both weekend days, and weekday nights, made the trek across campus to Brecon to see friends guilt-free, got enough sleep (for the most part), and had an off-campus activity I looked forward to every few weeks: it was those events that I looked forward to the most. This continued over my winter break: previous winter breaks were spent applying to internships, reading ahead to prepare for upcoming coursework, trying to develop new technical skills, etc. This break, I caught up with people from my internships, people from high school, people from travels, and hiked, ran, and tried aerial yoga for the first time. I watched so many movies and shows (of course I had to see the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel!) and read a lot too–and I still made sure to dedicate some time to my senior project and other projects related to my future job.

Tried aerial yoga with a friend.

Binged The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel with my mom.









Last semester was my favorite semester (so far) because I truly enjoyed myself. No, classes weren’t easy, but for some reason, they weren’t as emotionally-draining as they had been in the past, but I also found that what I had considered wasting time before was not actually wasting time. Taking breaks and having fun made me not just happier, but also more productive. Now, that change of mindset that’s personal growth!

As I focus on my senior project this semester (developing web and mobile apps to compare which apps are better suited to teach people with autism emotions and social skills), I aim to also remember to breathe. To soak in the beautiful flowers come springtime. To not feel guilty for doing something not related to school. To make memories. To live.

What would you do in your final semester, or what did you do?

The Best Class I’ve Ever Taken

Some classes change you.

It’s taken three years, but I’m so fortunate to have taken Professor Kalyan Nadiminti’s History course at Haverford this past semester called the Global Histories of Asian American Labor.

With a total of four enrolled students in the course (five if you count one who audited the class), this class became a tight-knit family as well as a therapy group, as Ann Tran’18 so nicely put it.

L to R: Kevin Liao (HC ’18), Rebecca Cheng (HC ’19), me, Katherine Lee (BMC ’18), Ann Tran (BMC ’18), Professor Nadiminti

As Asian-Americans, we’re often forgotten when talking about people of color. We’re also often forgotten when talking about Asians from Asia. There’s a common thread amongst many Asian American lives, and that is a feeling of being in-between. A feeling of not truly belonging, of feeling stuck in between the motherland you weren’t born in and the land you were born in. It’s about being distinctly other.

We delved into so many topics related to labor from the industrial interracial adoption complex to the narrative of the Asian immigrant as a non-resident worker, as well as the different types of Asian-Americans, like Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Indian/South Asian, and Vietnamese. We discussed our own families and some personal anecdotes, cried over the text Coolies and Cane (spoiler alert: Chinese-Americans were slaves, too, at one point), busted the Model Minority Myth, watched an episode of Master of None, and gave input as to which texts we wanted to read: our last text, American Born Chinesewas one that Kevin Liao (HC ’18) suggested on the first day of class.

Master of None

American Born Chinese graphic novel







As a third-generation Chinese-American, my family’s story is different from my friends’ ones where their parents came to America, or where they themselves came here as children. I saw my family’s story not just in the stories about the San Francisco railroad (which is why my great-grandfather came here in the 1800s), but also the ones about Japanese internment, about Korean adoptees, and more.

Throughout this semester, I’ve realized that I’m not alone: others have similar stories and thoughts about being asked, “what are you?” or “where are you from?”  I also realized that this is the first time I was in a classroom committed to introspection around my own personal role and where I fit in these global narratives.

There were so many mind-blowing moments this semester where I was just in awe having learned something new that I’d previously had no clue about. I grew closer to friends and gained new ones as we grappled with our identities together, and I’m so grateful to Professor Nadiminti for leading us all through it. As the semester ends, I have more questions than I had at the start of the semester and fewer answers.

Measuring Progress: Applications of Weight Training

How to Measure the Unmeasurable: Just a Feeling

This past summer, I probably annoyed my manager by repeatedly asking, “Yes, I can feel I’ve improved, but in what concrete ways?” It took me a while to realize that progress isn’t always measurable, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t occur.

Chasing Greatness sign at LinkedIn SF when I visited classmate Stephanie Cao ’18, LinkedIntern

School: Measurable, but an Incomplete Picture

In school, you can sort-of track growth in the same way. How long does an assignment take? What grade did you get? How much time did you spend studying? However, grades are not a perfect measure: sometimes you learn a lot but your grade does not reflect it (here’s looking at you, computer graphics last year.)

Teammate/friend Abby Brewster ’18 admiring the tennis teams’ academic accolades

This year, I’ve been trying to measure my progress in a variety of areas to figure out how to improve in each. One concrete measurement I like is weight training. Many sports teams on campus have training sessions with our Strength and Conditioning coach, Courtney Morris ’99. There, we do exercises to train agility and strength, whether it be working our quick feet on the ladders, jumping rope, or lifting weights and training our upper body.

It’s easy to see after a week or so that you can jump rope faster and longer, do more repetitions with more weight, and increase the number of pull-ups, push-ups, and more that you do.

Yoga class with Courtney and some teammates! #selfcare

I like running and yoga for the same reason: you can always go further (running a longer distance, running faster, holding a pose for longer, etc.) than you thought you could. It doesn’t get easier; you just get better. Yoga also provides a nice mental break, and is good for stretching, toning, and relaxing. I love ending my week with a yoga class in Bryn Mawr’s gym.

There are so many mental hurdles when you run or lift, but by pushing through them and persisting, you grow both in the gym and off of it. If you discipline yourself there, you can definitely focus longer on school work and push yourself to understand a difficult concept that you previously struggled with.

Some of my fitness, health, and productivity stats for the day.

An amazing app I now use to measure different aspects of my life is Gyroscope. I love the visualizations which really show what you’re doing. The productivity one also shows how you’re spending most of your time (which websites or apps) and you can set goals to use apps less.




So What?

Next year, you bet I’ll be stronger and faster, and I’ll have the statistics to prove it. Will I be a better programmer and writer? You may have to take my word for it.