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Chelsea Polanco

Place of birth:

New York, NY

Family Heritage:

Dominican Republic


Computer Science

Current job:

Computer Science Student at New York University


I'm a freshman Computer Science student, so I've only started with introductory courses for the fall and spring semester. I've been able to work on simple programming tasks all the way up to implementing functionality in a chat system. Previously, I took coursework in AP Computer Science during my senior year of high school. Next fall semester I plan to take a Data Structures course which will put me further into the Computer Science major. In my free-time I like to revise programs I've previously written in order to make them more efficient. This spring semester I worked on 5 projects-- one of which is a blackjack game played against a computer.


I work with the Python and Java programming languages, and I'm eager to learn more as I advance through my career. In my first introductory course we worked with simple programming tasks with not much emphasis on design. However, as I move forward with my coursework I find that design and efficiency are two of the most important aspects of coding. It's certainly difficult but I believe the pay-off is well worth the effort!

Why would you recommend exploring careers in science and technology to other Latina girls?

According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, minority women comprise fewer than 1 in 10 employed scientists and engineers. Throughout my educational career, I was never exposed to a diversity of faces in my STEM-based classes. Thus, I took the initiative to make a difference in my surroundings, by encouraging other people of color to consider STEM related classes. This personal struggle has made me grow as a person, and to not let anything hold me back. It is immensely important to have an equal representation of everyone-- there is not one 'archetype' of a person in STEM.

Once I had taken computer science coursework in high school, I became more confident in my ability by bonding with others who had undergone a similar struggle. Even if I had doubted myself at some points due to the statistics, I always put those thoughts aside in order to focus on what was important to me: learning. Until there is equality for all, we have equality for none. I hope to influence even more people to consider the option of STEM, regardless of their backgrounds, because it should not be a limiting factor. If I am able to provide a representative of a latina in STEM and influence a young girl to become interested, it would make a world of difference.