HS Insider

Bytes of Tech: Meet MIT student Rona Wang — writer, mathematician and computer scientist

Rona Wang at MIT. (Image provided by Rona Wang)

Bytes of Tech is a column by Vivian Wang that highlights the role of technology in the lives of Generation Z youths and the ways that youths can bridge the gender gap in STEM. In this week’s article, Vivian interviews Rona Wang, an MIT undergraduate student interested in the intersection of STEM and the humanities.

In Los Angeles Times High School Insider’s first women in STEM podcast, Stories from a STEMinist, MIT undergraduate Rona Wang shares about her high school and college experiences as a writer, mathematician, and computer scientist. This past summer, I met Rona in a virtual setting and decided to reach out to her for this podcast episode. Here’s what Rona has to say about her writing journey and dual interests.

1. Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?

I’m originally from Portland, Oregon and now I’m an undergraduate student at MIT. The pandemic has made the timeline wonky, but I’m probably graduating in 2022.

2. What are you studying at MIT right now?

I’m a math major with a computer science minor.

3. What has been your favorite class at MIT?

That’s a tough one! I’m lucky to have taken lots of incredible classes, but one of the most formative has been Geometry and Topology in the Plane, also known as 18.900 (we number our classes at MIT). The professor is so awesome. I met several wonderful fellow math majors through the course, and we’ve collaborated on plenty of departmental advocacy initiatives.

4. Can you tell us about your upcoming novel?

Absolutely! My debut novel, “You Had Me at Hello World,” is coming out through Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers in spring 2022. You can add it on Goodreads here. It’s about a teenage girl who is invited to a hackathon and suddenly enters a whirlwind of wealth, innovation, and romance.

5. What is the main message that you hope readers will take away after reading “You Had Me at Hello World?”

I hope readers — whether or not they’re interested in tech — will be inspired to pursue their own dreams, no matter how impossible they seem!

6. Where do you see yourself five years from today?

Well, I hope to have graduated from college! I would love to apply my technical skills to projects with social impact, especially in education. The dream is to work at an ed-tech nonprofit like Khan Academy, or even create one myself. And I absolutely plan on writing more novels! There are so many stories left to tell.

7. What advice do you have for young females who enjoy both writing and STEM?

Do everything you love! Please don’t feel obligated to choose one or the other. I wish I’d taken more risks in high school; don’t be afraid to pursue your passions and explore every dimension of yourself.

8. Where can the LA Times HS Insider community access your writing and the recent podcast?

My short story collection, Cranesong, is available for purchase here! And I write a newsletter at rona.substack.com. If you’re interested in more micro-updates, I tweet at @ronaywang. The podcast episode from Stories from a STEMinist can be found here.

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