Undergraduate Spotlight: Hannah Ashley

October 6, 2023

In our Undergraduate spotlight, we sit with some of our undergraduate students to learn about their experiences at Iowa State University and in the Department of Computer Science.

Meet Hannah Ashley, a senior computer science major.

"Don’t underestimate yourself! You are capable of much more than you can imagine, and it is so worthwhile and rewarding to push through the learning curve of initially entering this field!"



1. Why did you choose to attend Iowa State University?

I chose to attend Iowa State University because both of my parents and both of my brothers went here! Aside from that, I fell in love with the campus and small-town feel of Ames while I was touring it in Spring 2019!

2. What is your favorite thing about Iowa State or Ames?

My favorite thing about Iowa State is the people! Our campus is brimming with many talented students who are uniquely gifted in their different fields of study. Being surrounded by this motivating atmosphere has been so contagious, and I have loved getting to watch my friends and classmates work hard to succeed within their disciplines! 

3. How did you become interested in computer science? What are your specific interests in the field?

I took a very unconventional route to choosing Computer Science as my major. In my freshman year, my major changed from undecided to Criminal Justice, to Biology. When the Spring 2020 semester rolled around, I decided to take COM S 207 to fill some elective credits. Although I had no interest in anything computer-related at this time, I kept going to class because it started to become really interesting to me. Thanks to Gurpur Prabhu, who patiently taught the material in such an understandable way, COM S 207 quickly became my favorite class to attend. Shortly thereafter, we were sent home for COVID-19, and I ended up with a lot of free time to reconsider my major and explore my interest in programming. Computer Science aligned with how I logically thought, problem-solved, and was genuinely enjoyable to me. It was at this point that I decided to declare my major as Computer Science!

Through taking a variety of CS and CPR E classes, as well as working internships in various channels of software development, I have gained an interest in embedded systems. Bringing software to the lowest level before the hardware is fascinating to me, and I’m so excited to begin my career in this area of the field!

4. Are you involved in any student groups?

Throughout college, I have been involved in Salt Company, Dance Marathon, SALC, and have been a member of Gamma Phi Beta Sorority! These extracurricular involvements have been extremely influential in my college career by providing me with opportunities to grow in my faith, give back to my community, be involved on campus, and build close relationships with the people around me! I can not speak highly enough of these organizations, as well as how important it is to be involved in extracurriculars that allow you to become more well-rounded and gain interpersonal skills!

5. What are some things you like to do for fun?

I love to spend my free time trying new restaurants, trail running (or regular running when I’m in Iowa), finding adventurous things to do with friends, and traveling. After graduation, I am so excited to be taking a one-month trip to Australia and New Zealand where I’ll get to see a whole new side of the world!

6. What advice do you have for incoming computer science students??

Don’t underestimate yourself! You are capable of much more than you can imagine, and it is so worthwhile and rewarding to push through the learning curve of initially entering this field! 

In addition, get to know the people around you! The resources available to you within the Department of Computer Science are invaluable, so be sure to take the initiative to get to know the faculty and students and allow them to get to know you! Having a community within your major allows you to celebrate each other’s successes, as well as lift one another up during a tough day, week, or semester! 

Finally, don’t let yourself be defined by the stereotype of what you think Computer Science is! I have witnessed so many intelligent and persevering women going before me in this field, and I hope my story can be another reminder to any incoming female students that you are fully capable of finding a home in the field of Computer Science!