Supporting and inspiring the broader community of women in technology is important to us here at VMware. One way we show our commitment to this community is through the VMware Achieve Scholarship. Created in 2017, the VMware Achieve scholarship is focused on providing female students studying Computer Science or Computer Engineering a one-time $10,000 USD monetary contribution towards their tuition and fees. Our hope is that by providing this scholarship, we will help women pursue their goals to become leaders in the technology industry.

Today, we’re proud to announce the winner of our second annual VMware Achieve Scholarship, Valerie Chen. Valerie, a Junior at Yale University, is currently studying Computer Science. Valerie truly embodies everything VMware was looking for in the recipient of this year’s scholarship. After a thorough review and selection process, it was clear that Valerie’s accomplishments set her apart. When we asked her to describe herself in three words, she responded with curious, forward-looking, and dedicated. These traits shined through on her application, resume and her letter of recommendation. Although school keeps her very busy, Valerie still makes time for other passions. She loves working on projects that make a difference and you can find her volunteering or doing research in the robotics lab in her free time. She also considers herself a huge bookworm, occasional 5k runner, and avid traveler. According to Valerie’s department chair, her active research in systems will promote other fellow female students to pursue research careers in her field. We are amazed at the impact she is already having so early in her education and career.

After Valerie found out she was the winner of this year’s scholarship, we asked her a few questions to get to know her a bit better. Read through the Q&A below to get to know Valerie Chen!

Q: Why did you choose Yale?

Valerie: I chose Yale because I wanted a well-rounded undergraduate experience, especially coming from a STEM focused high school, and the opportunity to take classes with some of the most brilliant professors from all different fields.

Q: Did you always know you wanted to study Computer Science?

Valerie: Prior to taking a CS class I had no idea what I wanted to study in college, but once I took my first CS class in high school I knew this was the major for me. I’m still figuring out where exactly my CS career will go in the future though.

Q: Who is your role model and influencer?

Valerie: Donna Dillenberger. I was able to attend her talk this summer at my internship and left the event feeling more inspired than ever. She embodies the idea of being a go-getter, working on problems you love, and making a large-scale difference in technology.

Q: What do you hope to do post college?

Valerie: I hope to attend graduate school to get a PhD in computer science and then go into industry to work as a research scientist. I want to work on cutting edge problems in an industry setting where the research can potentially influence the product that many people will use.

Q: What has your experience been being a woman pursuing a degree in Computer Science?

Valerie: It has been difficult or discouraging at times, but I choose not to look at that side of things. Instead, I like to focus on the fact that I have made so many great and supportive friends within the major. There are many organizations too that work to support women in the tech field and I am so grateful for that. 

Q: What motivated you to apply for the VMware Achieve Scholarship?

Valerie: A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the VMware headquarters as part of a women in tech event. Then when I saw that VMware was hosting this scholarship, I knew that I had to apply! Also, I knew that the scholarship would really help me out in terms of heavy burden of tuition.

Q: You have many accolades; can you tell us which one you are most proud of and why?

Valerie: For me, I think what I am most proud of is not the awards that I win, but the work that I have done and the impact I have been able to make through both the time I have dedicated to in research and outreach. For example, seeing the girls in SheCode, a volunteer program I lead to teach New Haven middle and high school girls to code, solve a problem and get a program working is such an inspiring feeling!

Q: If you could give another female considering studying Computer Science a few words of wisdom, what would they be?

Valerie: My advice would be to never give up. CS is definitely not easy in terms of technical challenges or even social challenges in the working environment, but it is impossible to deny how many amazing things come out of the application of tech. If you are passionate about this field, then keep on keeping on and always dream big.

Q: What did winning the Achieve scholarship mean to you?

Valerie: Winning the Achieve scholarship reaffirmed my hard work and efforts, especially in my aspirations to pursue a graduate degree in computer science. I hope that one day I can give back and help others in the same way VMware is supporting me now.

We want to congratulate Valerie on this wonderful accomplishment and we look forward to supporting her while she continues to impact those around her and pursue her dreams.

To Learn more about the VMware Achieve scholarship and to be the first to know when applications open in 2019 visit our scholarship page here.