Merely said in passing, “Why don’t you try it? They only select girls,” led to her becoming one of the 2013 winners of Google’s Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship winners. An Hyesoo (AN) has always pursued opportunities in different areas and is not afraid to pioneer undeveloped paths. The Sookmyung Times (SMT) discussed how she came to win the scholarship while still enrolled at Sookmyung Women’s University.
SMT Your original and innovative characteristic is quite impressive. Did you also possess these aspects as a child?
AN In elementary school, I found an invention club, where my friends and I invented nonsensical objects for fun. During middle and high school, once I learned of an inventing competition, I participated although I did not win every time. I participated merely because I was interested in inventing. I enjoyed the fact that I could turn something into something else by myself.
SMT You have also experienced participating in a club called Bizarre People. How was it, being part of that club?
AN I volunteered to help younger students often. During this work, I learned to think creatively. At one camp where club members educated middle and high school students about establishing companies, I spoke frankly with the younger students. I was surprised at how ingenious they were. They were not afraid of making mistakes, and they expressed their ideas confidently and even discussed about commercializing their ideas. It was these very students who gave me the idea to minor in entrepreneurship.
SMT You were selected as a Google’s Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship winner in 2013. What made you attempt the program?
AN Before hearing of the program, I was completely oblivious that the scholarship program existed. Someone just happened to mentioned it casually in conversation. I hesitated at first. I debated applying because I lacked confidence. However with a clear mindset to give it a try, a few days before the deadline, I pulled several all-nighters to write my resume and my essay proposal.
SMT You created a special educational program called ‘Xylo-English,’ which is very impressive. How did you come up with the idea for the Xylo-English?
AN The society we live in requires people to have the ability to communicate in English so often, children are forced to learn English. I recall learning English; it was not fun. Therefore, I thought about stimulating the five senses in English lessons. I have always enjoyed music and that made me think of instruments. Then, I realized that a xylophone’s keys were similar in numbers to the English alphabet. Using what I obtained from my major, Computer Science, I developed the program ‘Xylo- English.’ A child seeing a cat on a TV screen or a computer screen can play out the letters in cat -c-a-t- on a xylophone. In this way, the word spelling can be memorized more effectively.
SMT Society needs creative people. You seem to have adapted perception. What contributed most to your integrated thinking ability?
AN I am fascinated by new things. Majoring in Computer Science, I have always hoped to create my finished product. When I first started university, I misunderstood Computer Science as just being about programming in binary, but I realized that most people use computer science in all aspects of life, even in the arts and other areas. In addition, I try to observe objects meticulously and visit exhibitions to absorb new areas. Even though some areas are not relevant to me, I want to keep a curious attitude toward everything. For example, there was a photography exhibition at Sookmyung Women’s University on Peru. Even though Peru has no relevance to me, I visited the exhibition and observed the photographs. There, I fell in love with Peru and it is there that I decided to use part of my scholarship money to visit South America in the winter. Because I approached to the subject with an open-mind, I gained another special experience that will be very useful for me in the future. If Sookmyungians approached their interests enthusiastically, they will reap the benefits.
SMT What is ‘An Hyesoo Laboratory’ and what is its purpose?
AN ‘An Hyesoo Laboratory’ is something I established. I do not have my own physical lab yet, but it is something I have designed in my head. Since the beginning of my 1st year at college, I told my friends I was Research Director of ‘An Hyesoo Lab’ and they laughed it off. However in doing that, it became my goal, and I felt my life’s path was leading me in that particular direction. When I register on a website, I often say I am a research director. One time, a person from an institute contacted my website, and the person asked for director and wanted to know if I was interested in receiving a computer education class. This only happened because I stated my position title as a research director. If I were to really establish a lab in the future, there would be lots of areas I would like to investigate but the major ones are neuroscience, art based technology, and Human Computer Interaction.
SMT Finally, what does SMU mean to you?
AN Sookmyung Women’s University is like a mother bird. A mother bird constantly feeds her babies. Many people may not take notice, but the school is constantly giving information and new opportunities to students. For me, I learned so many things at school and there were variety of things obtained.
Currently attending Division of Computer Science
Minoring in Department of Entrepreneurship
Recipient of 2013 Asia Google Anita Borg Scholarship