College Up Close: Ayana Monroe, computer science
“From a young age, I knew I could use computer code as a tool to help people, and that was what I wanted to do when I got older.”
“In my information science classes, I talk about how to structure and conceptualize the technology, and in my computer science classes, I learn how to build that technology from the ground up.”
Monroe studies Human Computer Interaction, one of 19 research areas in the computer science department. Through her research, she’s focused on how emerging technology, like ChatGPT, DALL-E and blockchain, can “help and hurt.”
“It’s impossible to feel stagnant or bored in this time when new technologies are being built rapidly and people are using it in ways that many have not predicted.”
Monroe is now an undergraduate teaching assistant for one of her favorite computer science classes, “Intro to Digital Culture,” which is taught by Tessa Joseph-Nicholas and focuses on the implications of code in society.
Originally from Columbia, Maryland, Monroe says her favorite Carolina memory is actually the entire experience over her last four years, especially the community she’s built.
“I think about how I did the thing: I made lifelong friends I can trust, confide in and count on. It makes me really proud of myself and the person I’ve become.”
Monroe gives a shout-out to Black in Tech, a student organization dedicated to supporting and connecting Black students and underrepresented students pursuing technology and computer science at Carolina. Her favorite study spot is the Campus Y with a decaf latte from Meantime Coffee in-hand. Her favorite Franklin Street restaurant is Saturni (order the Maharaja burger, she says).
As Monroe prepares to continue her education by pursuing her Ph.D, she imparts advice to her fellow Tar Heels: “School’s important, but school can’t happen without your whole self.”
By Jess Abel ’19
Tar Heels of the Week are nominated by professors in their department. Follow us on Instagram to explore more College Up Close.