Sohie Lee, senior instructor in the computer science (CS) laboratory, is a beloved member of the computer science faculty. Her bubbly personality and motherly demeanor calm the anxiety of her students, many of whom are taking computer science for the first time. Lee received her Bachelor’s from Cornell, Master’s from Stanford, and Ph.D. from the University of California San Diego. The large class sizes and lack of women in her undergraduate classes are the source of her passion for teaching computer science to women at a small liberal arts college.
From the time she started college, Lee knew she wanted to work with young people. She had originally planned to pursue a pre-medical curriculum because of her interest in pediatrics. However, she found she was not passionate about the classes she took for the requirements.
“I did not realize that pre-med meant taking a lot of classes that I wasn’t particularly interested in or good at. Chemistry comes to mind,” Lee recalled.
Searching for a new focus in college, Lee remembered that she had enjoyed her high school CS class. She decided to pursue the major and developed an interest in teaching the subject.
“Throughout both my undergraduate and graduate studies, I was always one of two or three women in the classroom, and I never had a female professor. As a result, I was very drawn to the idea of teaching CS at a women’s college,” Lee explained.
Her idea became a reality when she became an instructor at Wellesley, where she values how much professors are invested in their students.
“More than half of the computer science faculty here are women, so that’s a huge difference from large research universities,” she said. “I’d say the faculty/ student connection is much stronger at Wellesley than it is at larger schools.”
As a laboratory instructor in a small college, Lee especially takes pleasure in the special moments and bonds she shares with her students.
“I love it when a student is able to do something that she previously deemed out of her comfort zone. Maybe she thought it was too difficult or maybe the current culture made her believe she wasn’t capable. Then, when she solves the problem, the sheer joy and pride on her face are priceless,” Lee said.
Lee’s excitement about CS developed not only because she loves teaching but also because she is excited about where the field is headed and its potential to disrupt other industries. As technology is integrated into every aspect of our everyday lives — from current Wellesley students using Uber to the potential of future Wellesley students receiving packages via drone — CS majors are in a unique position.
“Students who are knowledgeable in CS can shape the way technology fits into our lives,” Lee explained.
As part of her ten-year plan, Lee hopes to continue in the field that she is passionate about.
“If I am lucky I’ll still be teaching women CS and eating lots of dark chocolate!” Lee exclaimed.
Photo Courtesy of Wellesley College