Students Join Boston University at Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference

The Annual Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference brings together students and professionals from all backgrounds in computer science to promote and celebrate diversity in computing. For the first time, Boston University had the opportunity to sponsor six students to attend the annual event in Washington, DC. 

From September 7th to September 10th, the students had the opportunity to connect with leaders in academia and industry through presentations and conversations.

“I was able to meet inspiring and like-minded students, researchers, and faculty members from different schools, such as Georgia Tech, Cornell, who are passionate about technology, and most importantly, diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field as well,” said Hany Jasmine(CAS ’23). 

The Tapia event is a part of The Department of Computer Science’s commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives which strives to celebrate and foster diversity while integrating initiatives into tangible actions such as student’s professional development that build and improve the community.

The “Tapia Conference was the first time I really saw people like me in computing. For reference, I am a disabled, Indian woman who is a part of the LGBT+ community,” said another student, Sanskriti Sharma(GRS ’28), who attended the conference. Sharma described the experience of directly seeing representation in computing as incredibly interesting and calming one in the face of battling struggles with imposter syndrome. 

“Something she said that stuck with me is that ‘it is better to mess up being myself than mess up by being anyone else,’” said a fellow Tapia attendee, Anulika Nnadi(CAS ‘24), referring to a conference speech about overcoming imposter syndrome. She highlighted a conversation she had with the speaker of this presentation, Mikela Wright, “As a black woman myself, it was amazing seeing a black woman in that high of a position. She even told me she was aiming to be a Director, which inspired me to keep pushing and to keep aiming high.”

In addition to bringing to light topics of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and disability, the Tapia conference gave students the opportunity to personally connect with professionals and recruiters.

Attendees noted the conference’s career fair offered a valuable experience to talk to recruiters, learn about new companies, better understand each firm’s corporate culture, and form better opinions on future career matches.

“Through the Career Fair, I was able to tell which companies that I want to apply to and which companies I did not apply to based on those conversations I had,” Nnadi said, “There were some companies that were not on my radar or that I had no idea had internship opportunities but after speaking with some company representatives, I became interested.”

The learning potential of this experience did not stop at the speeches and career fair, but extended beyond to connections formed between attendees themselves.

“Outside of the conference, I loved networking lunch and dinner, where I met some great friends. Tapia Conference is diverse in students from different countries and schools, and this provides us with great topics to talk about in chats,” said Caiwei Zhang(CAS ‘25), “I learned about education systems in Puerto Rico from senior students from the University of Puerto Rico, differences in software engineers approached by research and professions from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and life in California from undergraduates from the California Institute of Technology.”

While the four day conference came to a close, the attendees were able to leave with valuable insights into the role of representation, equality, and inclusivity in computing.

“It was very insightful to hear stories from people of all backgrounds and experiences and I found myself motivated to leverage my own career and experiences in technology,” said Jasmine.