Panziera enjoys both math and language. While the focus on math may seem obvious for someone in a STEM field, language also has its place, she explained.
“You also have to learn the different languages of programming,” she said. “When you’re a programmer, you are the translator between the user and the core of the computer.”
A native of Argentina, Panziera wasn’t always fluent in computer-speak. She study mathematics for a year at a four-year school and intended on continuing that trajectory. Financial issues prompted her to enroll at SUNY Broome, where she learned about programming. (Fun fact: SUNY Broome didn’t have a Mathematics major at the time, but it does now, effective this fall.)
“When I came here, I found that I really wanted to program,” she said.
Panziera followed her mother to the United States about five years ago and graduated from Windsor High School, where she honed her English skills. Considered non-traditional by gender in her field, she has met only a handful of female students in computer technology, but that has never held her back.
“Things will not always be so easy when you are part of a minority, but here is the secret: when people tell you to expect to be treated unfairly — and they will — do not listen to them. It is hard to be treated poorly because of who you are, but it is harder to see everyone as a potential enemy,” she counseled.
She shares her expertise with fellow students as a tutor in the Math Lab and computer lab, and also as an ambassador for non-traditional students.
After graduation, she plans to stay in Binghamton while finishing a bachelor’s degree in software development at an online school.
During her time at SUNY Broome, Sofia has felt welcomed by her fellow computer technology students as well as professors, who were eager to address any questions. Her experience underscored a key message about campus diversity: You are welcome here.
“I’m foreign. I’m non-traditional by gender. I’m non-traditional by religion and sexuality,” she said. “I’ve never had a problem with any of these things here in my department.”