Continuing My Grandfather's Legacy

Anjana Rao - Software Engineer at Workday

Photography : @maria_boguslav

Photography : @maria_boguslav

My grandfather was a lawyer in India and was very focused on political cases. He was extremely passionate about justice and couldn’t stand mistreatment against a minority.  He was also a pilot on the side and loved astrology and that’s what really inspired to be a well-rounded person. Even in the last few days of life, he was challenging his way of thinking and trying to learn new things. I would always notice how he was never put into a box. People revered him for his intellect, he was funny and a good conversationalist. I remember looking up to him since I was a kid, even before I realized the stereotypes I would face as a woman. By the time I got to high school, I was heavily involved in debates about world events. I love diversity of thought and social issues. I had many interests, most if which didn’t intersect with one another and that really confused me when applying to colleges. I wanted to do something where I could have an impact while feeling empowered. I ended up going to Case Western Reserve University and finishing my degree in computer science. I felt that comp sci was a subject of ideologies broken down into understanding problem-solving mechanisms and I loved that. I am now a Software Engineer at Workday.

I felt the gender disparity especially in my Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) program. When I started my classes, didn’t have a lot of friends in my classes because nobody looked liked me or spoke like me. In addition, I had interests outside of just coding and was involved in other campus groups. I had to navigate my way through the computing social scene, which was difficult for me because most of my classmates spent their free time playing video games or coding. Going to office hours helped a lot when I had questions because I met others in my program that were struggling with similar concepts and we were able to connect over that. I started to learn how to be a chameleon in social situations. I realized that a lot of my peers didn’t interact with people like me (just like I didn’t interact with a lot of people like them). I came to terms with the fact that I was under-represented in my program an took it as an opportunity to understand a different point of view, rather than fixating on my differences.

In my senior year of college, I took an environmental psychology class and found that there is a lot of work to be done in raising environmental awareness. I want to reduce the amount of waste I aspire to live a minimalist lifestyle. I also want to help people reduce their carbon footprint by using technology. I feel like, in the world of fast fashion, so many things claim to be environmentally ‘sourced’ or ‘friendly’ when in reality they are not. There needs to be an easy way to understand how a particular product may affect the environment before making purchase decisions. Even though I have a long way to go before I become an environmental expert, I try to limit the negative impact I have in the world. I am taking baby steps like purchasing locally sourced food, buying fashion from the thrift store and learning how to compost. I hope that one day I can use my experiences to educate others on how they can play a part in improving the environment.