We hella loved meeting California native Meera Parat in her fave place: the outdoors. We took advantage of the spectacular day to photograph this awesome lady. During this session, we learned that Meera is not just an accomplished computer science student, but she’s also very interested in machine learning and its applications to the field of medicine. Read on to find out more!
Tell us a little about you.
I am born and raised in Palo Alto, in the sunny state of California. For reasons people don’t understand at first, I decided to go to school in the harsh, cornfield-flooded midwest at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. I will be entering my third year in Fall 2015, and I’m currently studying Computer Science hopefully with concentrations in Big Data, Machine Learning, and their applications in Biology. I love the outdoors more than anything, driving and talking cars, and I believe a good cup of coffee can make any day better. I say ”hella” a lot, so spend a lot of time around me and you’ll start to realize the greatness of the word. Last but not the least, I would be lying if I didn’t mention that half the time I do not know myself if I’m being sarcastic or not.
Tell us about what you’re wearing.
I’m wearing a sleeveless, v-neck flare dress from Loft. It’s white with thick black lines pattern all across it. It has pockets on both side which you can’t tell they are there unless my hands are in them. The pockets are actually super useful for my necessary chapstick, bobby pins, phone, and work badge. I compliment it with silver flats and either a gold or white necklace (haven’t picked yet), and a maroon sweater. The maroon is perfect for my style because I’m normally a very colorfully dressed person, so the white and black dress makes me a little uneasy unless complimented with a colored sweater!
How did your style evolve to what it is now?
I’ve never been one to dress up a lot, change my earrings more than once a week, or consciously pick out jewelry every morning. Through the end of high school and the last few years in college, my style has been (in colloquial terms) very chill. Recently, I wear flannels or any button up shirt unbuttoned instead of a sweater, jeans, and a simple shirt.
I have fake white Airwalks (which are already fake Vans) on which a friend drew adorable Calvin and Hobbes graphics. I wear those a lot, along with my extremely colorful belt to add a little spice to my outfit. To stress how much I’m a fan of flannel, I’ll wear a white and dark blue plaid flannel over a bright pink chiffon dress with my Calvin and Hobbes sneakers.
I dress slightly different for work. Even though there is no dress code at Microsoft, at least amongst the engineers and as far as I have noticed, it’s my only chance to dress up a little and not be out of place. So I take advantage of it - I like to dress simple, but classy. I might wear a respectable dress with flats or sandals, jean/ white crop business pants with a business casual top, and if I’m feeling it I’ll change my normal small heart pendant on a thin silver chain to a light gold or white statement necklace. Dress well, feel well, right?
Also, as a rule of thumb, never underdress – you have nothing to lose by being best dressed!
Any advice for a young person thinking about getting into a STEM field?
Do it if you have the interest.
Do it to satiate your curiosity, and don’t let anyone or anything stand in your way.
Be confident, be humble, don’t be a hypocrite, and always, always do your best.
What would you say is the project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?
Last summer I interned at a startup as their first and only intern. It was an amazing experience in the sense that the team was really cool, super helpful, fun, and the smartest people I’ve ever met. I felt extremely privileged to work with them, even though I did my own projects.
My mentor entrusted me with building an Authentication Module for integrating the company’s product — which was an SDK for communication, in simple terms — with Parse for app developers. I needed to use that module in my own app that I was developing so I had to tackle that challenge one way or another. I built the module in a language I had never learnt, using libraries I’ve never used before in ways I’ve never done before. I wrote the README for it, put it up on GitHub as an official page under our company’s GitHub projects, and it went public. We offered it to basically anyone who was integrating Parse and our SDK into their app, which is quite a few people!
Even after a year it is still on the company’s page, being used by many developers, and has barely been edited by full time employees at the company after I created it. It’s so fulfilling to see one’s own product, built from start to finish by myself, open to the public and being used by many, especially noting that my initial code and documentation is still valid and working.
What is the best way (if any) for people to follow you on social media?
My Instagram account is the most representative of me, in my opinion. It highlights the parts of my life that either astound me to jaw-dropping reactions, make me really proud or happy, or hit me with a wave of nostalgia. It’s the quickest way to get to know me and what I believe in.
We loved Meera’s simple but elegant style– very reminiscent a modern Audrey Hepburn. We also highly recommend checking out Meera’s similar Insta where she showcases every day things with a slightly different lens. We can’t wait to see what she does next.
Dona & Beth