Thanks to Cindy Hoang, coding and programming just got a little bit cooler. Cindy is one of the many tech rock stars working with Girls Who Code, an organization committed to inspiring, educating, and equipping girls with the computer skills to put them on the path to success and innovation. Cindy recently wrapped her junior year of high school, one that gave her the opportunity to write about being a girl in tech for the Huffington Post and that set her up for an internship in UC Davis’ programming and visualization language program. When she’s not rocking the next apps that will change the world, Cindy digs hanging out with her friends and performing as part of her school’s dance company. “Practices are intense,” says Cindy, “but it helps me relax!”
If you could describe yourself in one hashtag, what would it be?
Tell us about a girl in your life who rocks.
My older sister, Christina, rocks. We were rocked in the crib together when we were little and now she rocks my world. She's one of the strongest and hardest working girls I know (literally, she's buff from gymnastics). On the exterior, she's shows the world that she's tough and not afraid tackle problems one at a time. When she's at home, she pulls out her glasses and will study for hours until she's nailed the material. Her attitude is fearless and she inspires me to be as strong as I can.
What are your dreams/goals/ambitions?
I dream of changing the world. With technology, we have the power to do anything. I want to do something big with what I have now; I want to create in order to better the world. There is so much to do, so many things needed to improve. This generation is spoiled with potential and I aspire to be a part of the greater good.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of being a wallflower. At first, I hated it. I was never noticed and I always seemed to be overshadowed by everyone and everything around me. Now I can embrace my semi-invisibility powers. I can hide when I need to, but I can shine at times too. That’s what makes it special.
What piece of advice changed your life?
“Don't sell yourself short. You can be amazing,” my dance teacher of 3 years told me. I was holding a pose low to the ground while we were practicing, but she knew I could do way more than that. It sounds cliché. However, ever since then, I have been pushing myself farther and farther than ever before in everything, not just dance. Before, I felt like a failure and unaccomplished. Now, I go after things that I normally wouldn’t. I can feel myself improving as a person and I’m always motivated to keep moving forward. There’s no limit to what I can do as long as I push for it.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years, I see myself living in an apartment in the city, hopefully with pets allowed so I can have a furry companion to be less lonely. I’ll be working some place with flexible hours and crazy benefits like getting free time in a game room or all the food possible in the whole wide world for free. Every morning, I can stop by Starbucks or just grab any coffee in general with some delicious breakfast to wake me up. From there, I will go through my day programming, communicating with my coworkers, and taking breaks to eat the free snacks around.
What is the number one item on your bucket list?
My number one item on my bucket list would be to get a job at Starbucks. I want to be a barista because, one, I love coffee, and two, I like making people’s day. There will always be at least one person who could use a smile, whether it’s from the drink or from me.
Who has been the biggest female influence in your life and why?
The biggest female influence in my life has been my mom. She brought me up and taught me right from wrong. Even when she’s not lecturing, I learn from how she acts. She’s extremely loving and determined; she’ll spend hours doing something that she feels is important and necessary. Also, to me, she cooks the best food in the world.
What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken and what did you learn from it?
The biggest risk I have ever taken would definitely be applying for Girls Who Code. Honestly, I didn’t know what I was signing up for. I didn’t even know if my parents would let me or how I would get there every day. I had gotten a short email that briefly explained what the organization was about, which caught my attention. From there I just jumped on the website and spent a few hours perfecting my responses on the application. I didn’t think too much about it because I knew it was my lifelong dream to have a chance like this, especially only for girls. When I found out that I had gotten accepted into the next class, I was beyond ecstatic, but then again I was a little worried at the same time. I would spend my entire summer with 19 other girls who I had never met before to learn how to code. Ultimately, the experience became so much more than getting educated on programming. I found a family of girls and gained confidence that I can do anything that I set my mind to. Taking risks is as scary as it sounds, but sometimes the rewards make it all worth it.
Why are you THAT GIRL?
I am THAT GIRL because I am learning to make things happen. Change doesn’t come out of nowhere just as money doesn’t grow from trees. We all dream big. As soon as we start trying to make these dreams come true, we start to make a difference. We start reaching our true potential. We have to make it the magic happen instead of waiting for the magic.
*Interview conducted and compiled by Sheila Moeschen, IATG Senior Editor