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As I glanced around, searching for acceptance, an awful epiphany struck me. I’m in an all male computer science class. I could tell that my new classmates thought I was in the wrong class by their looks and stares. I, myself, wondered if I stepped in the right class and if it was a smart choice to choose this elective. It was my first day in the class and already I felt like I didn’t belong. But nothing was worse than when I heard, “Are you sure you think you can handle this class, it’s easier for guys” from my new teacher.

That was the first time someone blatantly said to me that I couldn’t do something because I was a girl. At first I thought I just heard it wrong, but there was no version of that sentence that was better. I seriously questioned if I could handle the class since my teacher questioned my ability. I could not believe that not only did my teacher believed what he said but that my fellow classmates agreed with him. I felt like an outsider because of my gender, but I had no intention quit the class. I only stayed at first because I did not want my classmates to continue to think that girls were somehow inferior when it comes to computer science. That meant that I had to spend time catching up to my class since I never had any experience with coding unlike my classmates. I also had to learn that feeling isolated in my classroom was my new norm.

How long does it take someone to become adjusted to ignorant statements? For me, it took a long time before I could become numb to the ignorant statements that I overheard from the guys in my classroom. My classmates would say something as simple as “Oh don’t you know that command?” but in an inadvertently condescending voice that made me feel like I was the only person who didn’t understand. I felt that I shouldn’t react to their comments because I didn’t want them to think I was weak because I’m a girl. As being the only girl receiving this treatment I contemplated if it was necessary to prove the guys wrong at the expense of my feelings. I stayed because I became fascinated with programming and was not going to let my classmates take that away from me.

Up until taking that class, I was never told that I couldn’t do something. As a consequence of this lack of reality instilled in me, I went through school with a false sense of what it means to work hard or what it takes to accomplish something you have your mind set on. Once my teacher said what he said to me, it caused me to want to work my hardest to prove not only my teacher wrong but also myself for believing him. Now I see this experience as being a blessing in disguise. I have become more motivated as a student so the feeling I get when I accomplish goal happens more often. I also came to the realization that people’s opinions about whether or not I can do something is irrelevant as long as I believe I can.

My teacher assigned the class to create a game called Brick Breaker. I was scared that my game would look simple in comparison to my classmates’. However, I was able to get the highest grade because I was underestimated by everyone. In my head, this was the moment I prove that my teacher’s belief of women not being able to handle computer science was indeed wrong. I have begun to be accustomed to being something of an anomaly. The chance to repeat this entire experience is one that I would do in a heartbeat. Because without this experience, I would not of found my true passion in life.

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