Swarthmore College student, Pearl Zhang '22, is committed to blending education, advocacy, and technology for the common good. For instance, on campus Pearl is an active member of the student group, Swarthmore Technology for Social Good, where she leads and implements website design using Python, HTML/CSS; collaborates with the Swarthmore Zero Waste group to implement database of environmentally friendly resources; and also mentors and assists underclassmen in computer science and website design. Off campus, Pearl volunteers nonprofit organizations where she enhances low-income immigrants’ financial literacy skills and educates them on anti-immigrant and anti-sanctuary legislation in the Government of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Further, she tutors K-12 mathematics and language arts in Mandarin and English to refugee and immigrant children living in Chinatown; leads hands-on laboratory studies to supplement science curriculum and improve scientific engagement; and provides mentorship to high-school seniors focusing on career exploration and higher education aspirations.
I'm diagnosed with myopia and astigmatism; in other words, I'm disabled. I've walked the halls of numerous hospitals. The one thing that's surprised me is the gracious empathy that people have shown me.
It's that internal desire to model empathy which has led me down the path of computer science and education. The one thing I strive to remember about computer science is its human connections in the potential to positively impact people’s lives.
During my volunteer shifts with Ability First, I advocate for disabled children. Amy is one of these children: she is diagnosed with cerebral palsy. I remember when a purple crayon fell to the floor, and Amy was attempting to bend and pick it up. In that one action, I saw someone who was trying her hardest to defy expectations and go beyond her potential. I was humbled. I saw a courageous person.
I strive to uplift marginalized voices as a Clinton Global Initiative Scholar and Young People For Fellow. Through these fellowships, I aim to improve access to technology for children with disabilities and hope to destigmatize the perception of disability through education initiatives. I want to leverage my privileged position in order to create change.