Front Page Summary:
Sharon Lin, Stuyvesant HS TSA member and past president of NY TSA, shares how TSA inspired her to pursue a career in computer science and led her to opportunties working with the Department of State, Facebook, and the United Nations Counterterrorism Council.
Sharon Lin, a TSA member since seventh grade and past president of New York TSA, is a senior at Stuyvesant High School in New York. Sharon’s passion for STEM and technology has grown through TSA, and learning to program for Website Design and Video Game Design inspired Sharon to pursue a career in computer science. Her experiences in TSA have led her to amazing opportunities, such as working for the Department of State and Facebook to develop an Android application for nonprofits, and working on a website for the United Nations Counterterrorism Council as a winner of their Unite for Humanity Hackathon. Additionally, she appeared as a contestant on the Qualcomm #WhyWait Invent-Off, and became an ambassador for AAT (America’s Amazing Teens) Project and Maater Makers thanks to her background in technology. See Sharon’s insights about TSA and her experiences below!
Why did you decide to join TSA?
In seventh grade, I was curious about technology, and the students already in TSA were building really cool projects — websites, video games, solar panel dragsters. I wanted to take part in an activity that would be able to challenge both my creative and analytical minds, and I thought TSA sounded like the perfect organization to join.
What was a defining moment in TSA that made you realize you wanted to pursue a career in computer science?
What experiences led you to working with the US Department of State, Facebook, and the United Nations Counterterrorism Council? What excites you about the work you are doing?
I've always had an interest for social activism — I started volunteering in elementary school, collecting canned food for soup kitchens and volunteering at senior homes and festivals. As a result, civic and community-minded activities and projects have always appealed to me. When I joined the United Nations CTED at their Unite for Humanity hackathon after my team won the competition, I realized how big the opportunity was to work alongside disenfranchised religious youth. Similarly, after receiving an offer to work for Facebook and the US Department of State, I knew that the project at hand was one that would not only enable me to work alongside other talented individuals, but to also have an impact on others. I love the empowerment of technology, and how it enables anyone to bring to life complex ideas, and to spread these ideas to others through your work.
What is your favorite thing about being a TSA member?
I love the passion and enthusiasm of TSA members. Attending conferences and competitions and seeing all of the incredible projects that students have poured hours into is so inspiring. While I'm often intimidated by the quality of other schools' Animatronics or Architectural Design projects, for instance, I'm more often driven to work harder on my own, and to showcase the best of my ability. Working alongside people who have such high standards motivates me to work harder to achieve my own dreams.
What was your favorite part of serving as the president of New York TSA? What was the biggest lesson you learned regarding leadership during your time as president?
I enjoyed the leadership aspect of being able to plan out our conference, the judging of events, and the logistics of handling so many talented students from so many chapters. I definitely learned a lot about my limits — working alongside a dedicated team allowed me to better gauge my own abilities, and it led me to understand the necessity for team leaders to trust in their colleagues. It's really allowed me to understand how much cooperation and teamwork really matter in any group setting, especially that of an executive board.
What is the single biggest way STEM education has changed your life?
STEM has challenged me in ways nothing else ever has — it's tested my limits, forced me to prioritize my goals, and allowed me to make some of the best friends I've ever had. It's so inspiring to be in the midst of such innovation — whether it's the technological discoveries and inventions being created each day or the software and startups being launched, we're truly in a golden age of technology. I don't think I've ever been so in touch with a constant stream of innovation and creativity, and it's really allowed me to bring out the best of me and utilize my skills for the betterment of others.
What is the best piece of advice you can offer to current TSA members?
Learn to take risks and appreciate every opportunity that's given to you. Whether it's meeting TSA members from other states or countries, trying out an event in an unfamiliar area, consulting your career choices with your teacher, or stepping up to run for a leadership position, there's no reason not to try. This period of your life is incredibly transformative, so make sure to make use of every second you can to help expand your knowledge and experiences for the future.