Member Highlight: Anna Gutowska
As a first generation student, Anna Gutowska is paving her own way through college. Without anyone to guide her through quintessential college experiences like choosing a major or what classes to take, she reminisces about the challenges freshman Anna had to overcome: “I felt completely blindsided by college, not knowing what opportunities to seek out or the order of things to do to be successful.”
Growing up, Anna often saw her tech savvy dad fixing computers or playing around with hardware. Though she had a clear interest in math and technology going into her freshman year of college, she originally hesitated to pursue Computer Science. Hearing that other students, usually male, had taken AP classes in high school, Anna was struck by the initial fear that she was already behind.
Anna was glad to have quickly found a study group of girls to help her navigate through her first Intro to CS class. However, as the class grew in difficulty, each study session shrunk in participants. One day, Anna found herself the only one still showing up. She explains that her fellow study mates dropped the class for various reasons - some felt discouraged, some felt they weren’t receiving adequate help. Anna says that, “Even though they were doing fine, it was easy to assume that if this intro course is this hard, it’ll be even harder to fulfill the other requirements.” With courage and unrelenting resiliency, Anna was determined to prove herself in this male dominated field.
At first, seeing other female students leave CS classes caused Anna to question her own skills and capabilities. Anna explains how, “When I’m in lectures, there’s just one row of girls.” The stark visual is now a constant reminder to keep going, keep trying, and keep reaching higher. Thinking back to her overwhelmed and frustrated freshman year self, present day Anna wishes to encourage those in similar situations to “Believe in yourself and know that things get easier.”