Featured Student: Liza Clairagneau

Featured Students


Course of Study: Psychology and Computer Science/Mathematics double major
Hometown: Kigali, Rwanda
Interests include: Art, Dance, Decolonial work, Netflix/TV shows

If you could re-do all of your experience with computer science, would you do anything differently?

I would start learning computer science early. I sometimes expect myself to find CS as intuitive as maths sometimes feel, but often forget that the time span is very different. This is also something I wish more communities did. I wish we studied computer science as we do math or languages or other subjects. If it is easier to learn a language when you are younger, it must be easier to learn computer language and get deeper immersion if we start at a younger age.

What’s your favorite thing about CS (or math) at LC?

The professors. I wasn’t planning on being a computer science and math major when I came here. After lengthy conversations with my Calculus I professor. I decided to double major and not stop taking mathematics and computer science. I took Calculus III at 8 in the morning and what really pushed me through was Iva Stavrov. She has made me feel genuinely comfortable with my mathematical knowledge and lack of. It was incredible to be confused and spend so much time on homework and still have someone cheering you on and willing to sit down and help you get things. 

What has been your favorite course at LC?

I have had a lot of great classes, but I don’t necessarily have a favorite. My favorite aspect of classes is when they inform each other. Last semester, I was taking Calculus III (Multi-variable calculus) and a Figure painting class. Calculus III was learning to visualize, illustrate and understand shapes in 3D. The figure painting class felt like an application of what I learnt in math class, developing shadows, roundness and approximating how things would look in real life. The combination of the two classes t was a beautiful reminder of the ways math and art meet.

What project or experience (in computing) are you most proud of?

I worked on app in high school to help connect the Rwandan youth to mentors and inform them about internship and event opportunities in Kigali, Rwanda. The competition was put up by a software development company called HeHe. The CEO of the company, Clarisse Iribagiza, is one of the most inspirational people in the Tech Industry. It was an exciting time, because it was the first project I worked on as a programmer. We worked in teams of 5 under the guidance of recent high school graduates. Teams got to present their project at the final competition. We did not win, we were not expecting to, but it was really opportunity to work with so many incredibly talented people that I was after. 

What’s some advice you have for other computationally minded students?

As basic as it sounds, do not get discouraged! Computer Science can often be overwhelming and cryptic, but then again so is life, so what you gotta do? It is easy to get frustrated with computer science, especially when I just want to open up my laptop and quite literally talk to it. Having started computer science at a late stage, there has been multiple instances like those. What really got me through and still gets me through is trying. Immersing myself in the questions, approaching them from a different perspective, asking different people or even doing the question at a different point in the day. When I keep trying with problems, I am allowing myself to make mistakes, I am giving myself infinite chances to get things done. And Isn’t that what we all need? 

What is your favorite programming language?

 C, the first language I learnt and it still feels like the basis for a lot of languages. 

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