ELLA //  Student & Robotics Enthusiast

We hear you're into robotics and computer programming. What is it about those fields that attract/inspire you?
You can take the field in any direction, whether it's creating an app for kids to play with a robot or developing an assistive robot to help someone recover from a medical incident. It gives me the flexibility to incorporate my personal goals and interests.

How/where do you practice them? Are you going to study them in college?
I currently intern in the Interactive Robotics lab at USC. When I attend college, I want to study gerontology and occupational therapy. But with increasing advancements in technology, I'm sure I'll incorporate computer programming and robotics into my studies and, hopefully, my career.

How do you feel women fit into the future of computer programing and robotics?
Each year the number of women in the field grows and with it so do new breakthroughs! There is still prejudice against women working in computer programming but each woman who joins helps change that position. I especially love Girls Who Code, an organization whose mission is to close the gender gap in technology.

Describe one of your favorite projects you've worked on recently?
I recently worked on a study involving the use of robots in senior centers. It plays games with people to encourage family interaction and increased communication.

What do you think would encourage more young girls to participate in programs like robotics, computer programming and other STEM careers?
Knowing that it's an option and that they're more than capable of doing so–in other words–encouragement.

Tell us a bit about the TASSEL program and how you see this fitting into the future of the world.
TASSEL stands for Teaching And Sharing Skills to Enrich Lives. It's a nonprofit public charity dedicated to spreading the power of education to underprivileged children in rural Asia (Cambodia). They train high school and university students from the US to teach English via teleconferencing as well as in person alongside trained local teachers. They do this using the infrastructure, supplies, and care provided by funds raised by TASSEL. It's a small step towards spreading English into impoverished areas. They make it an easy for high school students to get involved. Last summer, I visited Cambodian villages where I taught and distributed medicine and clothes we had raised money for, and I will be doing so again this summer in 2017!

Who is the most bad ass woman you know and how does she influence and inspire you?
My mom. I know that seems like a stock answer, but it’s true. She’s very intelligent and works endlessly towards achieving the changes she wants to see, such as advancements towards a cure for HIV. 

Name one of your top influencers:
Amy Winehouse, I admire her because she knows who she is and stays true to her sense of self. 

Describe your personal style:
Hmmm, I always try to stay true to myself and stay grounded. And I always dress comfortably!!

What is your biggest pet peeve?
People that take themselves too seriously and people that chew loudly.  

What is your favorite food?
JUICE! Orange Juice!!

Tell us your hidden talent?
I can stay awake for days – 4 is the longest so far.

What apps can't you live without?
Instagram, because I'm following a lot of small animals that I want to watch grow. Also uber.

If you could travel anywhere right now, where would it be?
Italy! The most beautiful and fun place the world has to offer.

What has been your biggest challenge in life so far?
Trying to figure out how to help others, whether it’s my best friend or people involved in TASSEL or in my own future. I’ve been very lucky. Besides making it through my APs, the kinds of challenges I’ve faced seem minor when I think about what I will face in order to achieve the kind of change I want to make in the world. 

What is your favorite Zenzee style and how do you like to wear them?
I love that you called them "socially acceptable slippers." My favorite style is bones and I like to pair them with some loose fitting jeans. 


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