Abby Mapes


Los Angeles, CA

Academic Interests

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science Information Science + Studies Certificate Possible Math Minor

Fun Fact

I still have two baby teeth.

When telling people I study Computer Science, they usually reply: “That’s so great for a girl!” While it’s empowering to challenge the gender stereotypes in computing, it’s hard not to be intimidated by the clear gap in gender distribution within the field. However, my biggest influence in continuing to pursue a STEM degree and career is my brother. 

I spent the majority of my childhood watching my older brother Michael's every move. In order to gain his attention, I tried to be just like him– nothing impressed Michael as much as himself. Trying to keep up with Michael made me quite competitive, and nothing infuriated me more than failing to do so. Many basketball games ended abruptly; my diminutive stature made defeat inevitable. He may have had the clear physical advantage, but that didn’t stop me from continuing to try to lessen the gap between us. 

Before I had my own homework, I sat next to Michael while he completed his, pestering him with questions in an attempt to understand, to keep up. His math homework always particularly captured my attention: I was more comfortable with numbers than his cursive practice. I liked math because there weren’t any tricks or quirks like in grammar– “‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’ or when sounding like ‘a’ as in neighbor or weigh.” However, I always stayed one step behind him: as I learned addition, he practiced exponents. “What does that symbol mean?” or “Why does that equal 9?” were common interjections that interrupted Michael’s concentration. I was determined to understand, because math was something concrete, something I knew I could keep up with.

I’ve always had a very logical mind, which is why I’ve always been fascinated by math and science. This fascination only increased on my first day of Introduction to Computer Science the fall of my freshman year. Despite entering the lecture with no prior computer knowledge, after just one coding assignment, I was hooked. I knew I had found my “thing”– something that combined the systematic logic I love about math with the creativity I grew up with as an artist’s daughter. Since then, I continue to look for opportunities to gain as much knowledge and experience as I can in the Computer Science world– somewhere I know I belong.

What do you like about being a SPIRE Fellow?

The SPIRE Fellows program allows me to connect with and be surrounded by a network of like-minded students, mentors, and professors on campus. Being surrounded by the right people makes a campus and major that once felt so big and intimidating feel comfortable and exciting.

Abby Mapes