Alice Zhao

My Journey To Code

“What’s your name?”

I looked at my second grade teacher with a blank look on my face.

I told my teacher my name. And my classmates. Not once, not twice, but a thousand times. People always had trouble pronouncing my Chinese name. This was when I started to feel like I didn’t belong.

I made my way through school. I travelled the world. But I never found home. During my Master’s, I learned how to improve lives for people with disabilities. Through all my schooling, I continued to see a pattern. I was not alone in feeling excluded.

I joined a tech company and my worldview quickly changed. I saw the impact of digital innovations. I knew right then that I wanted to build technology to change the lives of people; not just people like me, or people of privilege, but every human being. That’s why I’ve returned to school once more for a computer science degree from the University of British Columbia.

My journey into tech started with a focus on physical accessibility. But there's a digital accessibility gap. A gap that can be bridged by building products with inclusivity in mind. My goal is to celebrate people of all backgrounds, because true belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are.

It requires us to be who we are.