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Xanda Schofield ’13


WITH A FEMALE TO MALE RATIO IN COMPUTER science envied by colleges nationwide, Harvey Mudd College is prov- ing that gender is not a factor in educating the next STEM leaders. Computer science and mathematics major Xanda Schofield ’13 sup- ports this movement and is rallying her classmates to the cause. She founded the Women of the ACM (W-ACM) club to help provide student support and activities beyond the classroom. “We focus on the skills that students don’t necessarily learn in


their computer science classes,” says Xanda. So far, the club has spon- sored workshops that focus on the Unix command line and website creation. Next will be community service activities such as tutoring, so kids start thinking earlier about computer science as a possible career. She’s been pleased to see women from throughout Te Claremont Colleges attend meetings, as well as a few men. She says, “We want the mindset to be, ‘Of course women in computer science.’” Xanda came up with the idea for W-ACM


while attending a Grace Hopper Women in Computing Conference, an event that celebrates female computer scientists and promotes the computer science field. Tis year, HMC sent the largest group ever—58 students, the most for any college at the event. “We’re kind of celebrities there,” says Xanda. For the past five years, HMC has taken 20–35 female students to


the conference and, during this time, has seen an increase in its female computer science majors (from less than 10 percent of CS majors to more than 40 percent). Xanda was practically born with a computer keyboard at her fin-


women in computer science.’


‘Of course “ ” We want the mindset to be,


gertips. Her father, Kevin, an HMC trustee, is a longtime Microsoft employee. While her twin sister, Elly, chose to major in mathematics, Xanda decided that both math and computer science suited her best. “Te nice thing about the convergence between computer science and math is it gives you a lot of tools to analyze what a computer can and cannot do,” she says. “Once you can show that a computer can solve a problem—in the same way that mathematicians can show that a problem can be solved—somebody will find a solution. I think there’s a certain magic to that.” Xanda’s been able to explore both areas of her major through


separate research projects. Last year, she worked with computer science Professor Robert Keller on his open-source software, Impro- Visor, a music notation program designed to help jazz musicians compose and hear solos similar to ones that might be improvised. She contributed to work that will help musicians memorize common chord progressions and co-authored a paper that has been submit- ted to the MIT Computer Music Journal. Now project manager on a Mathematics Clinic for sponsor Shell Oil, Xanda is working with team members to improve the efficiency of drilling systems. While she has been active in other activities during her time at


HMC, including grading for the Complexity Teory class, moderat- ing students-l and singing in HMC’s a capella group, computer sci- ence remains her passion. She has answered this calling decisively by accepting an offer to join the search team at Yelp after graduation.


FALL/WINTER 2012 Har vey Mudd College 19


My balance tips: Realize the priority is for you to learn, ask for help and don’t panic.


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