22-year-old Alina Young is a fourth-year student studying a combined degree in Advanced Mathematics and Computer Science.
She is also a UNSW Science Ambassador who has participated in several outreach initiatives and events.
She talks to us about her favourite courses, balancing her uni demands with her hobbies, her experiences as a Science Ambassador and offers some tips for students who may be struggling to adapt to the recent transition to full-time online learning and being physically disconnected from their friends.
What motivated you to study a combined degree in Advanced Maths and Computer Science?
I always liked maths in high school and since my parents encouraged me to pursue a degree I enjoy, I decided to choose maths. After taking Computing 1A and Discrete Maths as General Education courses, I did an IPT (Internal Program Transfer) and ended up with a combined degree of two things I love.
What are your favourite courses to date, and why?
My most favourite course would be MATH1081 (Discrete Maths). It’s the course that introduced the interrelation of maths and programming to me. My favourite courses in computer science are COMP3411 (Artificial Intelligence) and COMP3331 (Computer Networks and Applications) because they taught me a lot about different research areas in programming.
As a UNSW Science Ambassador, you’ve had the opportunity to participate in a lot of outreach initiatives. What has been your highlight of the Ambassador program so far?
I really enjoyed helping the School of Mathematics and Statistics with designing workshops for outreach and the Primary School Fete (Science Week 2019). It was challenging, especially when I had to conduct the fete activity, but I had the opportunity to experience this rewarding process and learned about how to communicate mathematical thinking to primary and high school students and incorporate it into hands-on workshops.
You are involved in a lot of extra-curricular activities at UNSW and also off campus. What would be your best tips for balancing the demands of uni studies with other hobbies?
Firstly, prioritise the tasks you want to do and make sure you go from the most important one, i.e. studying. Once you get the gist of it, you can plan your time accordingly. Some useful tips I found are to get enough rest (make sure you consider resting time in your plan) and to know when to say ‘no’ when you are overwhelmed.
If you weren’t studying maths and computer science, what would you be doing?
Maybe biosciences or biotechnology.
You’re getting close to the end of your studies. What are your plans for after university?
I accepted a graduate offer from IMC (an HFT firm), so I will start working there once I finish my honours year.
We’re living through some pretty challenging times. Many students would be finding it hard adapting to their studies moving completely online, while also being physically disconnected from their peers.
Is there anything in particular that you’re doing to help you to stay sane and connected with friends? Is there anything that you can recommend to other students who might be struggling?
The first thing to keep in mind is that even though we are social distancing, that doesn’t mean that we can’t communicate with others or contact them with other means. One thing I learned from a friend is that you can have a study session through video call with your friends. Even though it’s through a screen, our lecturers and tutors are also available to support us with our studies, so don’t be afraid to contact them. Remember that we’re in this together and you’re not on your own :) Stay safe!
Interview conducted by Susannah Waters