Since her very first computer science course in high school, Diamond Ly has been fascinated by the endless possibilities of the field.
“I loved the idea of being able to create something from just a few lines of code,” she says, noting that she’s particularly drawn to computer science innovations that improve people’s lives.
In 2021, Ly transferred from Orange Coast College to Cal State Fullerton, where she’s found empowering experiences, opportunities, and a community while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in computer science.
“My experience at CSUF has been wonderful so far,” Ly says, praising the research experiences available to undergraduates. “I admire the variety of student clubs in the College of Engineering & Computer Science and the community they have built here.”
Immediately after transferring to CSUF, Ly joined Women in Computer Science and Engineering (WiCSE), an organization that’s committed to increasing women’s engagement and success in these fields by offering significant academic and professional opportunities and support. Beth Harnick-Shapiro, professor of computer science and WiCSE faculty coordinator, has made a notable impact on Ly.
“She has been incredibly supportive and wonderful during my time here at CSUF,” Ly says. “She’s part of the reason why I have been so involved in WiCSE.”
Through WiCSE, Ly has been able to network and connect with professionals across various industries, as well as her peers. Recently, she acted as a peer mentor for CIC|PCUBED’s summer research program and was a lead student assistant and mentor for the WiCSE Career Pathways Program.
“I wanted to provide students with the same support and guidance that I received when I joined WiCSE,” Ly says.
The Career Pathways Program, which took place August 7-11, 2023, helped prepare students for success in college and their careers. For the first several days, students attended virtual sessions and workshops that helped them establish plans and goals for their time at CSUF and beyond. On the final day, they were invited to an in-person session on campus, where Ly and the other mentors discussed notetaking and studying skills, as well as techniques and habits students could adopt to improve their well-being while pursuing a demanding degree and career.
“I most enjoyed interacting with new and transfer students and giving them advice,” Ly says. “It was also fun to see everyone excited about their WiCSE merch.”
Acting as a peer mentor for CIC|PCUBED’s summer research program was rewarding for Ly. Though initially hesitant to take on the role, she says the experience helped develop her confidence in her knowledge and abilities.
“I wanted to provide students with the same support and guidance that I received when I joined WiCSE.”
Diamond Ly, fifth-year computer science major at ECS
Providing support for these summer events required significant time management and communication skills, as well as collaboration and coordination with her peers to make sure both programs went smoothly and that the participants received the support they deserved.
“Diamond makes it look seamless,” Harnick-Shapiro says. “She is an exceptional student who can multitask, take initiative, and commit to a project, then follow through with ease and grace. Her outstanding technical and analytical skills serve her well, and she is gifted at making other students feel welcomed.”
The latter is a sentiment that’s clearly shared by the students Ly interacts with.
“Recently, some students approached me in the hallway to befriend me because they recognized me from the WiCSE summer program,” Ly says. “That may seem small and insignificant, but it was the first time I was acknowledged by students because of my involvement with WiCSE. It meant a lot to me.”
Spreading the Word
Participating in these experiences has enhanced Ly’s education by allowing her to build strong relationships with her peers and ECS faculty and bolster her leadership skills.
“It also showed me the importance of a support system being in place for those who are underrepresented in the field,” Ly says.
Ly’s commitment to connecting with and uplifting others is evident to anyone who knows her.
“It’s a foundational, driving force for her and everything she does,” Harnick-Shapiro says. “She genuinely cares deeply about the individuals we work with, and she makes sure everyone is included and part of the community.”
Given her character, it’s no surprise that Ly is also planning to assist in the organization and execution of the upcoming 2024 ECS Diversity and Leadership Summit, which brings students and industry professionals together through workshops, discussion panels, speed mentoring, and more.
Ly is looking forward to collaborating with various ECS clubs for the summit and hopes it draws a big turnout, adding, “I am amazed and proud to see so many female ECS majors this year. I’m excited to see what the future holds for women in STEM!”
If you’d like to attend the 2024 ECS Diversity and Leadership Summit, check the website regularly for the latest details. For more information about how you can support WiCSE, please contact Toni Arellanes-Miller, Senior Director of Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 657.253.3308.