I am a 1st-year CS PhD Student studying Natural Language Processing at the University of Pennsylvania.
I am so very proud to have Dr. Chris Callison-Burch as my PhD advisor, Dr. Emily Falk as my collaborator advisor from the school of Annenberg for Communication with secondary appointments in Marketing and Psychology, and so grateful to be a part of the NLP research group. I would like to take this brief moment to acknowledge the dedication and support of my mentors and letter writers during the long application process: Dr. Benjamin Martin from Texas State University in San Marcos, TX and Dr. Robin L. Garrell from University of California at Los Angeles who believed in me enough to stick with me every step of the way in applying to Grad School after 7 years in industry. They are my angels sent from Heaven; there are no words to describe the gratitude I feel for them. I am also an NSF GRFP Fellow and could not have had this 2nd chance in life without the financial resources and support of the National Science Foundation. Daughter to Mexican immigrants of indigenous-Aztec descent, I am a 1st-generation U.S. Citizen the first in my family to be attending University and the first woman to be educated in our family in over 4 generations (that we have record for). Before joining Penn, I grew up and finished school in Austin, TX with a B.S. in Chemistry and worked in the private sector for 7 years (KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD!!!).
My decision to cross over from Chemistry to pursue Computer Science came about at one of my prior places of employment where I was introduced to Data Analytics while working for a Start-up company. I worked with large data sets in the millions of records and maintained databases to bring formula/pathogen traceability to their finished product when I had no formal SQL or CS training. I found fulfillment in Data Analytics and it brought purpose to where I was once feeling a lack of job satisfaction before. I knew I wanted to dedicate the rest of my life to Computer Science and immediately set out to acquire the pre-requisites needed to apply to Grad School.
Changing my career so late in life has almost made it nearly impossible, so I feel very passionate about exposing young girls to computer science earlier on and influencing them from the ground up, especially those starting from disadvantaged backgrounds. One of my favorite women in Tech, Vanessa Hurst CEO of Girl Develop It, says “If someone would have told me software is really about humanity, that it’s really about helping people by using computer technology… it would have changed my outlook a lot earlier.” And that’s exactly what I intend to do through community service and outreach programs during my PhD studies.
I invite you to browse my website and get to know more about me in the About section. Also, feel free to view and download my Résumé which can be found in the left-side navigation bar.