Q. Can you explain your background? 

A. My name is Vallary Muhalia and I am a third year in the College majoring in Computer science and Statistics. I was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya and moved to the USA for college in 2018. As an international student, I am the first person in my family to attend college in the USA hence my close connection with the first -generation low income community on campus.

Q. What are you most passionate about and why? 

A.  I am most passionate about giving back to society through mentorship. This is because, growing up and even in college, I have drawn most of my influence from my mentors and supervisors. Thus, CCSS Maroon Mentors program has been a great resource in my transition to and well-being here at UChicago. As a mentee in my first year and a mentor the last two years, I have been able to find a strong support system through the CCSS family.

Q.What has been your proudest moment at the university so far? 

A. My proudest moment so far was when I got an internship offer from my dream company- Facebook. This internship gave me an opportunity to use my technical skills while working on real Facebook projects that  impact not only my community but also society as a whole.  My project involved monetization of Facebook Videos and this has greatly and positively affected the lives of many content creators during this pandemic season.

Q.What do you plan to do after college and what are the biggest obstacles FLI students may face getting into that field?

A. After college, I plan to explore careers in the technical field as a software engineer/data scientist. As an FLI student, and a woman of color,  finding mentors in this field has so far been my biggest challenge. However, in recent years, most tech companies have established programs that focus on FLI students and this has been helpful in bridging the gap. The most useful nugget of wisdom that has worked for me is “Don’t hold back, you will be the first of many!”

Interview by: Eseme Segbefia