Women Who Reign: Tina Ryu

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” — The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
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Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I am a sophomore majoring in computer science at the University of Southern California. I am currently a corporate affairs rep for Society of Women Engineers, the director of branding and marketing for Girls in Tech, and an engineer for a start-up PC game called “Quiet of the Leaves.” In my work, I like to incorporate my passion for diversity, equality, and fierceness. Moreover, I love to build, draw, and write. In my free time, I knit, play games, code, and plan an year of traveling around the world. A fun fact about me is that I drink 8 liters of water a day and try to live a plant-based lifestyle!

What # would define your life journey?
#wanderlust

Favorite website / app:
Goodreads and YouTube

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
Hayao Miyazaki. His goal is to make children smile, as is mine. He also once said that his heroines do not need saviors, but instead friends to accompany them on their journey. His movies constantly empower me and remind me that we are all fierce, strong, and intelligent human beings.

Song that makes you want to dance:
Currently, the song from Moana, Where You Are.

Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
October 1, 1996 — I was born in Suwon, South Korea. At age eight, I moved to the United States with just my mother and sister. Growing up in a traditional household and observing my mother and father’s power dynamics, I believed that I was lesser than my male peers. This idea expanded when I started attending schools in America, and everyone was overshadowing me — I was voiceless. It was until my ESL teacher stepped in after witnessing my quiet breakdown in the classroom closet. She reminded me that I was just as strong and intelligent as everyone else in the world — I had to stand back up, pat my knees clean, and keep running forward. From there, I started to read more books, write stories, and create videos. I strove to improve and display to others what a “clueless” foreign girl could do. I overcame the language barrier with creative and empowering activities. Even now, I approach all problems with a positive attitude, not afraid to get hurt. My past pain and achievements have not only thickened my skin, but have built passion for diversity and for equal voice in our society.

Ideal Job:
Ideal job would be either working at YouTube (to help create a platform for users to provide casual, creative content) or Airbnb (to help facilitate hosts around the world for travelers and friends). Or I would like to create my own start-up centering around a technology that empowers and supports people who deal with mental illness.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
I want all women in tech to keep in mind that no matter how hard the workforce, school, or any environment may seem in the beginning, you can get through it. Think of errors to be puzzles that are waiting to be solved, take any available help you can get and learn from each one, and have confidence in your coding abilities. You have the potential to construct and polish the digital world. And from there, you’ll have the power to build the future and influence other women to do the same. As Oprah Winfrey once said, “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.”