My name is Sara Kazemi, and I am a software engineer who is passionate about CS education.

When I first graduated high school in 2001, I selected computer science as my college major because I always enjoyed figuring out how other people’s code worked. But I lacked the resiliency and the resources needed to feel successful and, after scraping by in my first college programming class, wrote computer science off as “not for me”.

It was not until I took a course in Language and Computers (a linguistics course taught by Rob Malouf at San Diego State University) that I became reacquainted with computing through computational linguistics. The M.A. program in computational linguistics made me a stronger, more confident programmer because I learned computer science concepts through a subject that has always resonated with me — language. This connection allowed me to persist through the sharp learning curve of teaching myself Python and Java.

Recognizing the barriers that initially held me back, upon completing my M.A. thesis, I went on to teach computer science in a welcoming, accessible way to high schoolers at a high-need school as an effort to increase participation among girls and minorities. After several years of teaching, I realized I wanted to learn more about software engineering, which is why I am decided to pursue a second degree in Computer Science from CSU Monterey Bay’s online program, which I have now completed as of June 2020!