Lea Coligado · Junior Computer Science Stanford University · Editor of Women of Silicon Valley

Lea Coligado

Computer Science Stanford University · Editor of Women of Silicon Valley

Lea’s first experience coding was in high school AP Computer Science. “I hated it, I was the only girl. I didn’t relate to the content”. She took another shot at programming at Stanford, in a class that was half women. “I learned how I could apply coding to my life.”

She enjoyed injecting her sense of humor into her assignments. She built a game “Full Moon on the Quad” — poking fun at a Stanford tradition where students kiss on the quad under a full moon. “Different types of kissy­faces fall from the sky and you get points for kissing regular students. You get docked points for kissing a student with mono or a grad student. It was really a great exercise learning how to create Java classes”.

Lea interned at Facebook through the Facebook University program and built an iPhone App to sync contacts, text and send friend requests that leveraged multi-­peer connectivity from iOS7. “I came into computer science with the idea that it’s inherently not social — which isn’t true. I reviewed other’s code, worked with a team, and built relationships.” This summer, Lea will be interning at Apple Inc., working on Siri.

“I’ve had some negative experiences and imposter syndrome. I’m most proud of overcoming those feelings of unworthiness that I don’t belong in computer science. I used to think, “No wonder women wouldn’t want to go into tech if they get treated poorly, and with these stereotypes that you work in an isolated environment. Now I feel like I’m at home in tech!”

Lea harnessed her passion and started Women of Silicon Valley to “spread empathy at a massive level and popularize the notion of what it means to be a strong woman in tech. I love being able to help celebrate women in their careers. I’ve become and advocate for computer science, which definitely wasn’t what I was expecting in high school.” Lea says “don’t be afraid to reach out to people. I ask women cold turkey if they want to share their stories. Tech is a world of people who are open to giving advice.”