Like many pre-med students, Liz Liang was deciding between biology and psychology courses when she joined Duke's freshman class in 2006. But on a whim, the Seattle native instead enrolled in the Duke Emerging Scholars in Computer Science program, a two-semester sequence of courses and seminars designed by Professor Susan Rodger to introduce students to computer programming. For Liang, the nudge toward CS worked like a charm.
"The more I take computer science, the more I like it," says Liang, now a senior CS major. "I havenít figured out yet where that peaks," she laughs. After completing the DES-CS program as a freshman, Liang worked as a teaching assistant for Rodger and soon applied for yet another educational program -- the Computer Science Undergraduate Research Program, or C-SURF. "She's very energetic," says Rodger with a smile.
Liz Liang does a presentation for K-12 teachers at the Alice 2010 workshop
Through the C-SURF opportunity, Liang joined the Adventures in Alice Programming project this summer, integrating Alice, an educational CS software program, into all disciplines at NC school districts. Liang is specifically focused on integrating Alice into K-12 science curriculums and will continue the work as an independent study in the fall and spring. Liang also joined Rodger as a presenter at Alice teacher workshops this summer at Duke. "The teachers were raving about her presentations," says Rodger. "Liz did a fantastic job."
"I like interacting with and helping people," says Liang, who retains her premed minor and aspires to work in CS as well as attend medical school in the future. "I think that's why I really like computer science and medicine."
This year, Liang will continue her C-SURF work with Rodger, working with local Durham teachers to implement Alice in their classrooms, and will share her experience with a new crop of DES-CS participants as a peer leader for the program this year.
And as if that weren't enough, Liang's newfound calling fills even her extracurricular time: Liang currently works as the head graphic designer for the Duke Innovative Design Agency in the Office of Student Affairs, orchestrating and designing websites for numerous Duke organizations. "I'm pretty busy," she laughs.