In Part 1 of my interview of Yasmin Abdi, we learned about Yasmin’s background , and career advice. In Part 2, we get a bit more personal discussing her interests outside of tech and her charity work. Read on to learn more!
Suzie: What hobbies or activities do you do outside of school and work?
Yasmin: I am passionate about giving back through public service and volunteering in the community. I tutor and mentor. I frequently visit high school and middle school aged girls and show them what they can do with CS. The girls seem interested in the subject, and by me visiting them, it gives them someone to look up too. I wish I had a mentor like that when I was younger. Before interning at Snap, I used to go back to Somalia and tutor students in math and English. I also enjoy working out, playing basketball, and shopping (I could shop all day). All in all, I enjoy living a happy and healthy life.
Suzie: You mentioned tutoring students in Somalia, and I know you started an orphanage there called Al-Amal Orphanage. Could you please tell me more about the Al-Amal Orphanage?
Yasmin: I am a first-generation Somali-American. I grew up in the US, but I went to high school in Somalia. While I was in high school in Somalia, I used to go to the local orphanage to teach; about 15 hours a week. I [became] really passionate about helping the orphans…so I raised over $50,000 from [my community] to start the Al-Amal Orphanage. The Al-Amal Orphanage has between 150-250 students, depending on the year, ranging from ages 3-20 years. The orphans receive shelter, meals, and learn English, math and Arabic. I visit the orphanage every year, usually every summer.
Suzie: Do you have any future projects that integrate service and community with computer science?
Yasmin: Yes, marrying CS to community outreach is important to me. Currently, I’m a mobile app teacher and coach for a Technovation team. Technovation is a challenge that asks high school and middle school aged girls to develop an app that will help solve a community problem or a simple problem. My team made it to the finals this year, and my goal is to see them win it next year!
Suzie: That’s cool your team made it to final. Best of luck to them next year. I know you also started an organization at your school called Ladies of Computer Science; please tell me a little more about the organization and why a fellow student should join?
Yasmin: I noticed there was no club on my campus that was specific to helping women in CS, and women are underrepresented in the field, so I started Ladies of Computer Science. It is the first all-women’s CS club at University of Maryland. Our club partners with companies and other organizations, and there are three things our club focuses on: 1) giving back to the community, we go to local schools and Black Girls Code events; 2) mentoring and tutoring, we have a Big/Little program; and 3) professional development, we have recruiters come talk about internship opportunities, and perform tech interviews and resume workshops. I want every member of our club to feel empowered after a meeting; I want them leaving thinking that ‘Yes, I am a woman, and yes, I am just as good as you [at CS].’
Suzie: What advice would you give to other students pursuing computer science?
Yasmin: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone has needed help at some point. Build a strong network of people that support you, especially for group projects and study groups. Networking helps you get opportunities like internships, so talking to people [like working professionals in engineering and computer science] about opportunities. Then apply [for those opportunities]; be proactive. Being honest when you don’t know something and asking for help. And for life in general, be kind and smile.
Thanks Yasmin for the great advice and for sharing your motivating story! If you’d like to follow Yasmin to keep the inspiration going, please follow her on LinkedIn. You can also email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To re-read part one click here! Don’t forget to Like, Share and Comment!
This piece comes to us from one of our amazing community members and content volunteers, Suzie Olsen. Her bio is below, be sure to check out her awesome website and if you would like to work with us you can email us here!
Suzie Olsen is a Staff Systems Engineer in Phoenix, AZ. When she is not busy building and maintaining the search and rescue system for the US Coast Guard, she is performing science experiments and engineering design projects with K-12 students. To encourage all students in science, technology, engineering and math,she has written the book “Annie Aardvark, Mathematician.” You can learn more about Suzie here!