Get (int)spired by Wabil Asjad

Ronald E. McNair Academic High School

Wabil Asjad was born in Pakistan on August 9th, 2000 and currently lives in New Jersey, USA. She is a junior at Ronald E. McNair Academic High School. She loves computer science, math, and is a strong advocate for women's rights.

What motivated you or inspired you to go into your field?
Ever since I was young, I always loved technology. To me, computer science seemed really fascinating and just cool, but I never thought I’d be intelligent enough to pursue it. When my sister encouraged me to learn coding online, I was shocked. I didn’t know computer science was so accessible to me, and so very possible. As I learned more, I realized the immense possibilities coding provided for me. I could literally create anything and I could help so many people while doing what I love. What could be better?

What has been the most rewarding about your career/interest?
The biggest reward I’ve received from coding is learning to broaden my way of thinking. Through coding, I’ve been forced to develop patience when I face a difficult problem. I’ve had to learn to think outside of the box, and not be afraid to make mistakes. Taking the initiative to learn more brings me not only confidence in my skill, but the tools necessary to solve a problem. And there’s nothing more satisfying than when your code finally runs without errors.

Is it ever too late to enter a STEM field if you've started out on a different path?
That's the great thing about STEM: it's so diverse and large that it offers millions of opportunities to everyone. Even if you do something you might think is unrelated to STEM, you'll still be able to use those skills in a STEM field. It is never too late to enter because STEM is constantly evolving, there are always opportunities open.

What motto or core values do you live by?
The motto I live by is “It seems impossible until it is done.” There have been so many instances in my life where I let go of opportunities or projects because I think they’re unattainable. And once I look back on them, all I think is, “What if?” This phrase is what I keep in the back of my mind, to remind me to take chances because nothing worth doing is easy. It is better to take chances and possibly fail rather than think of what could’ve been.

What kind of obstacles are in store for today’s young women? What are some words of advice you believe will help girls today overcome these obstacles?
Today’s young women will face doubt and inequality. They'll be told that they are not intelligent or diligent enough for a STEM field. Their gender or race will be viewed as a liability, rather than an advantage. But girls have to realize that hard work and courage is the only way to come out on the other side of what they will face. It takes bravery to be a woman in STEM, but the rewards are endless.

Why is it important to close the gender gap in STEM fields? Why are education and inclusion for girls pursuing STEM necessary?
It is important to close the gender gap in STEM because women deserve to feel like they belong in STEM fields. The lack of representation and inclusion is what leads many women to leave their jobs. If young girls are exposed to STEM from a young age, they will be more encouraged to pursue it.

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