A few weeks ago we reached out to our friend Priya Ganesan, Stanford University junior and Google intern to see if she’d be interested in a profile and to our surprise, she mentioned that her little sister, Maya was also studying Computer Science and also would love to be profiled. We profiled and photographed the sisters together, along with their gorgeous mother Lakshmi.
So, here we are, Maya Ganesan: music lover, published author, fashion maven and computer scientist!
Tell us a little about you.
I’m a rising freshman at Stanford University, planning on pursuing a joint major in Computer Science and History. I want to continue to feed my interests in both technology and the humanities; I love the humanities (I’ve been writing since I was four!) because they’re a means by which to tell stories, and I love stories in all their forms – fiction, nonfiction, personal anecdotes, you name it. I think the humanities also empower us by giving us empathy for other people and the ability to understand the human experience more fully.
At the same time, technology helps us enrich the human experience. I love computer science because it’s about solving fascinating problems to simplify and enhance people’s lives, which means that it’s a job that enables you to impact millions of people with what you do. That’s incredible.
Outside of all that, I love design and typography, Doctor Who, Shakespeare, writing stories, reading magazines both physical and digital (think The New Yorker, Vulture, T Magazine, The Daily Beast, etc.), and music. I spend a lot of time scouting out new music, a hobby that’s aided by the fact that I love pretty much all genres (a few favorite artists: Arctic Monkeys, Carrie Underwood, Kings of Leon, Mumford and Sons, Olafur Arnalds, John Mayer, Little Big Town, Kaiser Chiefs). I’m also very competitive with my sister on Dance Central for the Kinect (and, of course, on BuzzFeed quizzes).
Tell us about what you’re wearing.
Blue skirt + black top + blue bracelet + bow necklace:
The skirt is a personal favorite of mine, one that I’ve worn to so many events and trips – I love the way the fabric moves, and the colors are so vibrant! The blue bracelet is one that my sister got for me when she was in Greece, and the bow necklace I picked up in Philadelphia at a conference I was speaking at. I got one for my sister, too, so we can match whenever we want to…
White and black tank top + denim jacket + jeans + boots:
I fell in love with this top from the minute I saw it – the black georgette collar is just perfect. This jacket is fairly new, but it’s quickly become a favorite because of how easy and versatile it is. And these boots I picked up last fall, and they’re so worn, but that’s a testament to how much I love them.
How did your style evolve to what it is now?
I used to wear bright-colored baggy shirts, baggy jeans, and running shoes every day… Those were dark days. Never again!
About five years ago, I decided I was tired of living in constant awe of my well-dressed friends, so I began reading fashion blogs and following Fashion Weeks. I started making a list of designers whose collections I now keep an eye out for; I bookmark outfits I love, and I’m sharpening my eye for finding good clothes in a store that’s saturated with merchandise. My style has become more simple and classic – tailored silhouettes, soft and swingy fabrics, notable accent details (like buttons, beading, or bows). A lot of my style inspiration comes from the designers I follow – designers like Elie Saab (who makes the most breathtaking dresses I’ve ever seen), Victoria Beckham (whose collections are always so beautifully polished and sophisticated), Alice + Olivia (their clothes are colorful, playful, and simultaneously wearable), and Marchesa (classy, romantic, beautiful).
Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?
There’s a really common misconception – one that I, admittedly, subscribed to for a long time – that in order to be successful and happy in a STEM field, you have to be naturally good at it, or you have to have been doing it since you could walk. As I meet more people in the STEM fields, I discover that a lot of them didn’t envision their careers when they were little kids; in fact, many of them didn’t expect to end up where they did. I’ve met people who got foreign language majors, people who did a complete 180 on their career choice, people who have hopped around in different jobs… Everyone has his or her own path to getting to a STEM field, and that’s part of the growing diversity that makes these industries continually stronger. The only prerequisite for succeeding at STEM is enthusiasm!
Personally, it has taken me a long time to figure out what I want to do with my life, and I’m still not entirely sure what my career is going to be. But I know that I want to spend my life doing something that has a positive impact on the world, and that goal is what motivates me every single day!
What would you say is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?
I got to spend last summer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, which was an extraordinary experience (partly because Boston is one of the greatest cities ever). I worked on computational analysis of data from atmospheric satellites; I used computer science to illuminate and examine trends in pollutant levels over oil and gas fields. Not only was this project rewarding from a technical standpoint (I got to learn MATLAB and complete my project in five weeks!), but it was also exciting to work on a project that had such tangible real-world implications. I’m proud of this project because of how impactful it is, and it’s that kind of meaningful work that I want to continue doing for the rest of my life.
What is the best way (if any) for people to follow you on social media?
Tweet me! I’d love to hear from you. I’m always hanging out at @mayaganesan. I also have a personal website, mayaganesan.com, where you can drop me a note.
One thing Maya didn’t mention is that she is a published author of a wonderful book of poems titled Apologies to an Apple that has heralded compliments and comments from many talented authors. What an amazing list of achievements Maya has had already! We are already following her on Twitter and are excited to find out what cool things she does this upcoming year at Stanford.
Dona & Beth