Serena Woodward, Horizons S’16

Quick intro

Your name: Serena Woodward

Age: 21

Where you’re from: Palm Beach, FL

Where you study: Villanova University

Major: Marketing

Three words that best describe you: Creative, Compassionate, Adventurous

8 questions for Serena

1. When did you first get excited about the world of tech?

When I was 4 years old, my half-brothers all decided I needed a computer. Since that age, I’ve been extremely interested in technology overall and in learning and understanding how it all works.

… and entrepreneurship?

My Best friend from high school came to me my sophomore year wanting to be partners in a project that she had an idea for. Together, we started talking to entrepreneurs for help starting it — I found that I loved talking to these entrepreneurs and was amazed by their paths to success overall. Working on this project did not feel like work — it was fun, exciting, and gratifying to create and work on my own project that could potentially affect people in positive ways. I felt that I fit in and got along well with all of the entrepreneurs I had spoken with and decided shortly before my 20th birthday that entrepreneurship was the route that I wanted to take my life down, albeit working for entrepreneurs for a few years or starting my own company right out of college.

2. Why did you decide to take Horizons and what’s been your favorite part so far?

Coding has always excited me, but I’ve never had the time as a business student to devote the critical time needed to it. Horizons offered me the chance to sacrifice one summer in order to learn all of the skills and lessons that I wished I’d had in college as well as be exposed to some of the brightest students in America and most successful, interesting entrepreneurs in the world.

My favorite part of Horizons so far has been community environment that we have been learning in — everyone is genuinely around to help you learn more and grow as you learn the necessary skills and work on valuable projects to form your basis of becoming a software engineer.

3. What does a successful version of you look like on graduation day? How about two years out of college?

I already graduated, but the image that I saw when I graduated was of someone who had done her best in Business Administration and Marketing classes who was excited to learn more valuable skills in order to find the best, most exciting job. Over the next two years, I see myself working at a startup whose mission I am passionate about, working in a valuable business development role.

4. Tell us what is one thing you believe is true that most people disagree with (the Peter Thiel question)…

Most people believe that a major part of their identity is where they are from, but really the opposite is true — these people have created the identity of their country and, if they would like, can move anywhere else and contribute to creating a new identity for that piece of land.

5. What has been the most important turning point / realization in your life so far?

The most important realization I have had is that life is lived in the grey area. For a very long time, things were either black or white — I either got an A on a test or I failed, or I either served a perfect set or I lost every point in the game. If I failed one thing, the day, game, set, etc. was a loss in my head. It took me a long time to realize that life isn’t just about the absolute wins — the black and white — but it is about the lessons learned from the failures and from the grey areas.

6. What motivates you to work hard every day?

The simple thoughts that:

1) I can be a better person today than I was yesterday

2) No matter how little the effect, I can make a positive effect on someone else’s life today

7. If you were going to be famous, what would it be for?

For creating something that makes the standard of living for whole societies of people better every day. We are at the point in technological development that we could raise the quality of life of the masses to a certain level, and yet we lack the resources, time, passion, etc. as a race to actually implement them. I want to be a part of the generation that will make this theory and dream a reality (Vinay Gupta is one of my idols).

8. What is your advice to incoming freshmen to make the most out of their time in college?

Don’t get caught up in the social things. Don’t get caught up in partying, drinking, etc. Don’t get caught up in social media, what other people’s lives look like, and how you portray your life. Pursue what you’re truly passionate about and what makes you feel like time doesn’t exist. Work tirelessly at those passions and along the way, you’ll make the friends, have the fun, and feel the most satisfied by the end of the day.

Thank you for reading.

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Horizons is a technology school that finds the most promising young people around the world and gives them all the advantages they need to launch their successful careers in tech.