With the start of the new year, I decided one of my goals for 2019 was going to be to push myself into pursuing more professional development. As a second-year biomedical engineering student by now, I pretty much have the social and academic aspects of college down. I wasn’t exactly sure where to start my professional development until I saw an advertisement for a hackathon right on campus. For those of you who don’t know what a hackathon is, it is essentially a 24-hour event where the participants code and create a collaborative product. The theme for this particular hackathon at my university was in regards to the health issue of maternal mortality. I felt particularly passionate about this issue so I reached out to a few of my friends and formed an all-female team. I was quite nervous for the event due to my minimal coding experience.

The event started early on a Saturday morning. After a few presentations regarding maternal mortality, my team began brainstorming our ideas for an app that would help new mothers understand specific health risks associated with giving birth to lower the maternal mortality rate in the country. Throughout the next 24 hours, I experienced a lot of stress and learning. Not only was I in an extreme time crunch to create an app from completely scratch, but I also needed to manage my team efficiently. There were several mentors at the event who offered us a lot of professional advice that eventually got us through till the next morning.

After presenting our app to a room full of about fifty people, the stress of the weekend began to fade. I felt very happy with the product my team completed. Although we did not win the competition, I knew I had won a lot in terms of professional development, teamwork, and coding knowledge. This hackathon was most likely one of the most stressful and uncomfortable events I have gone through, but it has just pushed me to pursue more events where I can network and grow professionally. I encourage all of my fellow first-generation students to push your comfort levels this semester as well.