First year Computer Science student Joyce Yang has been awarded a $12,000 HeForShe scholarship. Yang is among five other students entering STEM disciplines this September.
Arriving at Waterloo from Surrey, B.C., to pursue her degree, Yang says she first heard about the school from a friend who attended one of the summer camps. “She told me all about Waterloo, saying it's a really great school for innovation and its co-op program,” recalls Yang. Yang had already connected with the university personally by tackling Waterloo’s math and computing competitions for high school students.
Although Yang plans to use the school’s co-op system to explore different fields, she already knows she has a passion for coding through her programming classes in high school. Memorably, she got to code a game using the Python platform. “I chose a very difficult one, gin rummy. It had really complicated rules, so I spent after-school time coding, and it came to 700 lines. It was really fun.” Yang has also attended the Microsoft DigiGirlz High Tech Camp.
When she wasn’t coding, Yang volunteered for the Vancouver city government’s summer camps and special events. Back in Nanjing, China, where she emigrated from a few years ago, she also co-founded a ballet club, teaching younger girls the moves. She’s planning to continue her passion for dance by investigating dance clubs at Waterloo. She’s already signed up to volunteer for a hackathon in Waterloo and hopes to join a computer science club.
Yang says she was thrilled about the scholarship. “I felt like my heart warmed, as I can see the world is trying to encourage more women into the industry."
The new scholarship program is part of Waterloo’s ongoing efforts to achieve gender equity in academic programs that have traditionally been male dominated. They will be awarded to 24 young women over the next four years for a total of $288,000. The University of Waterloo is one of only 10 universities around the world to join the United Nations HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 campaign, a global commitment launched last year to promote gender equity.
Waterloo’s other HeForShe commitments include boosting female participation in STEM outreach programs, enhancing female faculty representation and attracting more female leaders to academic and senior leadership positions by 2020.