Nagar, Smitha
Smitha Nagar
Newton-Flawn Forty Acres Scholarship
Forty Acres Scholars Class of 2020
Pleasanton, CA
High School
Amador Valley High School

I’ve always been fascinated by the human mind – how we think and make decisions – and this curiosity, combined with my love for problem solving, is what got me into the world of tech. I think human connection is an important part of everything we do. Over the last couple summers, I've had the opportunity to work at Google, WhatsApp, and Instagram, and those experiences taught me how to apply what I learned in my classes to the real world.

Along with computer science, I enjoy participating in education outreach. Code Orange, which I was a part of since freshman year, is a student organization that addresses the digital divide in Austin by teaching kids coding principles and providing mentorship. I was also able to harness my creativity with Foot in the Door Theatre, through which I acted in my freshman year and now have written and directed a play of my own. I stayed in touch with my musical side by playing the UT Tower bells as a member of the Guild of Carillonneurs.

Throughout my time at UT, I’ve been surrounded by incredible people, and I’ve learned so many valuable life lessons from them that you can’t find in just a class. I’ve learned from the kids I mentored through Code Orange, from my Chinese professors on UT’s campus, and from my Spanish teachers in Guatemala. I’ve learned from computer science and art professors at UT and at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, my fellow FASP scholars, and my incredible peers and mentors as they talk about their latest projects. I’m excited to keep learning as I move on to working full time at Facebook after graduation.

Computer Science

Honors Program
Turing Scholars

Other Academic Interests
Psychology; Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies; Spanish; Chinese; Social Good; Educational Outreach

Extracurricular Activities
Code Orange
Guild of Carillonneurs
Foot in the Door Theatre
Google - Local Ads team, Summer 2017
WhatsApp - Android team, Summer 2018
Instagram - Instagram Search Product team, Summer 2019

What drew you to the Forty Acres Scholars Program (FASP)?
Every interaction I had with the program’s staff, during emails, phone calls, and interviews, made me realize how much they care for the scholars and actively try to provide the resources scholars need to succeed. I was excited to be a part of the incredible community this program provides, and I discovered during finalist week that the amazing, supportive peers in the program made me want to push myself to do my best. Additionally, I was drawn to the diversity of interests of people in the program, because I wanted to be exposed to multiple viewpoints and perspectives to better develop myself as a person.