Following the footsteps of her hero Bill Gates, WSOS Scholar Yarelly Gomez looks to make an impact in the technology field. A current Software Engineering major at the University of Washington-Bothell, Yarelly not only wants to graduate with honors but also wishes to create products that can make an impact, primarily on the Latino community.

Having completed two internships at Microsoft to date, Yarelly is currently channeling her education to create projects that highlights several social justice issues. She hopes to bring a new perspective to a growing field in order to impact it for the better.

Read more about Yarelly’s lofty ambitions, as well as how WSOS is helping her achieve her goals!

What inspired you to pursue your major?

It was a number of things that inspired me to pursue my major but more than anything I would have to say it was my job at the IT center on campus. The concept of understanding computers on a level that is Bill Gates (my idol by the way) worthy always seemed so cool.

Tell us about your current coursework.

Currently I am enrolled in a very unique major on my campus that focuses on engineering software that is purely human centered and its purpose is to provide the best user experience possible. The name of the major is Interactive Media Design and it involves coding lots of prototypes for iOS systems as well as web development courses. To be exact I am currently working on a website that I am creating, from the back-end server to the overall aesthetic of the site its purpose is to bring awareness to social justice issues. The name of my site is who we really are and its purpose is to showcase the accomplishments and struggles of Latino immigrants in this country. As a Latina in the tech industry I knew this was something I absolutely had to do, so that the rest of the world could see what I see when I look at my father and my mother: Hard Workers and Dreamers.

What has been your favorite class and how does it pertain to your major?

I would have to say that web programming was my favorite class, I was able to learn 4 different languages in the span of one quarter. HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP. It really made me understand how the web works on the technical side. As well as the capabilities a browser and/or webpage has that you didn’t even know existed.

What excites you most about your future profession?

What excites me most about my future profession is the fact that I am one day going to be able to make a product that has the ability to reach all ends of the earth. One of my cousins in Mexico could be using a product that I created here in Washington and it makes the world seem a little less big..less scary. Also, the fact that as a Latina in the tech industry I can bring a perspective to the table that is so necessary yet so limited. I can contribute on behalf of my culture with opinions that can influence all of us.

Tell us about your internship work this summer.

As a sophomore I worked interning for Microsoft in the department of Office 365 in a cohort referred to as the Young Technologist. I was able to code for hack week and was mentored by some of the most amazing women in the industry including but not limited to the amazing Miss Vanessa Feliberti. This summer I was asked to return to Microsoft to intern for a second summer but I had already committed to studying abroad in Spain. I was able to visit some of my dream destinations, and now this summer I ready to get back to work.

How did you land this opportunity?

My opportunity with Microsoft came directly from Theresa Britschgi the amazing coordinator at WSOS who reached out to me with the opportunity and encouraged me to apply. Theresa and Megan Nelson who also works for WSOS came to visit me on the Microsoft campus and were always checking in on how I was doing. They are amazing and an extension of my family.

Has your internship influenced what coursework you will pursue in the future?

My internship with Microsoft solidified that I was pursuing the right degree and that I needed to move forward in pursuing a degree in software engineering.

What advice do you have for other students thinking about or seeking internship or undergraduate research opportunities?

My advice to undergrad is just say yes, if a WSOS admin reaches out to you with an opportunity whether it be networking or workshops just say yes. You never know what can come of those meetings and it’s for your benefit, you can get so much more than money out of this scholarship so take advantage of the helping hand the staff has provided you with.

What has surprised you most about your program and studies?

What has surprised me most is the lack of diversity within my classrooms.

What extracurricular activities are you participating in that are helping you with your career goals?

I am actively helping small businesses in my area with creating a website for their business to expand. It benefits me directly in that I can practice and for them they get a site to expand their business.

What is your favorite app?

My favorite app is offerUp. Who doesn’t want discounts on brand new things? This college student definitely does.