Student Profile: Ashley Sachdeva

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My name is Ashley Sachdeva and I am from Chicago, Illinois. I am a senior in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences ('20) majoring in Computer Science (B.S.) with a minor in Mathematics.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about assistive and accessible technology. I want to encourage all developers to create products which are accessible to those with disabilities. Disabilities come with different challenges which require assistance to overcome. Creating efficient and adaptable technology could assist the lives of individuals living with disabilities and could positively impact an entire section of society.

One of the projects I have been able to work on is making websites accessible to the visually impaired. Everyone uses the web, it’s great! Why should people who can’t see it not be able to? Changing the code to include text to speech features allows those with visual impairments to use a website while minimally affecting the functionality of the rest of the website.

Another project I feel strongly about is creating communication technology for those who cannot verbally communicate. Communication technologies are currently on the market for $300 or more, which is unaffordable for many people. Verbal communication is essential to who we are as humans, and I believe everyone should be able to experience this for free. Three summers ago I was able to create a communication application prototype which gave people the ability to click customizable word buttons and create sentences. Unfortunately, this product was never launched, however I hope to be able to revisit this project in the future.

What do you do on campus?

I love being involved on campus. It is a great way to meet people from all different backgrounds and majors. I am the Director of Campus Engagement for Boston College Dance Marathon. We raise money for Boston Children's Hospital and host events on campus throughout the year. This year we raised over $34,000 for Childrens! I am also the Social-Media Coordinator for WZBC Sports Radio where we broadcast football, basketball, hockey and baseball games. I had the opportunity to broadcast the Notre Dame football game and the Beanpot at TD Garden this year. I am also an active member in Special Olympics and Best Buddies!

In addition to the clubs I am a part of, I also work at the front desk of the Computer Science Department. I answer questions and help students register for courses. Within that I have been a teaching assistant for multiple Computer Science courses including Computer Organization and Computer Science 1.

Why Computer Science?

I have had a passion for helping people with disabilities since I was in middle school. While I loved helping people, I knew I didn’t have the patience or mental strength to go into teaching. Computer Science gave me an outlet to express my passion while still using my strengths. I really appreciated how many different, unique technologies are already out there in regards to special education.

When I first started learning computer science, in my high school AP computer science course, I struggled with understanding the logic behind coding. I knew I was passionate about the subject, however it did not come easy at first. Having pushed through the initial struggle, CS is now a second nature to me. Now people always tell me how my eyes light up whenever I am talking about the code behind a certain application or website.

What has been your favorite class so far? (Computer Science related or otherwise)?

I have two favorite classes in different disciplines. The first class I thoroughly enjoyed was PULSE which is a service learning course here at BC. I enjoyed it because the service component allowed me to give back to the community by sending me off campus to work with diverse communities.. I also enjoyed talking about society and relationships in a different setting outside of the tech world. I got to serve at East Boston High School where I taught AP Computer Science and two special education classes. It was the best experience to combine all of my passions and skills into one placement.

The other course I loved was Database Systems and Implementations with Edward Sciore. He was very passionate about the course and constantly encouraged students to improve database systems, even if nothing was actually wrong. For example, when the Robsham Ticket Website broke down all I could think about is how it’s database failed and how I wanted to correct it. I even sent them an email about the correct algorithm that should be implemented instead. I gained so much knowledge throughout this course and fell in love with a discipline of CS that I didn’t even know existed. This course was in Java, which is my favorite language. This allowed me to focus more on the logic of the course rather than the syntax and semantics of the language.

What advice do you have for someone considering Computer Science?

Please try it and don't give up right away. It seems daunting at first but once you get past the learning curve you start to uncover talents you didn't know you had. Even if it is out of your comfort zone you should try to push your boundaries and explore something new! Just remember that everyone who seems to have computer science come easily to them also struggled at one point. Computer Science is a major for dreamers! Come join!