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Graduating Student Encourages Women to Pursue Computer Science Careers

Mayor Inna Gurung, a graduate research assistant in COSMOS, will graduate in May, 2023 with a master's degree in information science.
Mayor Inna Gurung, a graduate research assistant in COSMOS, will graduate in May, 2023 with a master's degree in information science. Photo by Ben Krain.

While growing up as a child in Nepal, Mayor Inna Gurung had little exposure to computer science.

“It started out as a mere curiosity as a kid to understand how devices were working, how websites are built, and how they made certain applications,” she said. “But as I grew up, I understood there is way more to it. As a family with a business background, my parents were always hesitant for me to pursue a career in computer science.”

Now that she is graduating with her master’s degree in information science with a perfect 4.0 GPA and has several years’ experience as a software engineer under her belt, the UA Little Rock graduate wants to encourage other women to pursue careers in computer science.

“I want other women to know that they can work in IT, computer science, data analytics, and be successful,” she said. “If I can do it, anyone can do it!”

After completing an undergraduate degree in computing in 2020 from Leeds Beckett University, Gurung worked as a software engineer for companies in Nepal and Qatar (remote).

“One of the hardest challenges that I had to face while working as a developer back in my home country is that I was the only woman developer,” she said. “I always felt like I would have been more comfortable if I had the opportunity to discuss my confusions and ideas with diverse colleagues. I believe a diverse work and research environment brings new approaches and ideas to every problem.”

While she was investigating graduate programs, Gurung decided to go to UA Little Rock so she could work with Dr. Nitin Agarwal, Maulden-Entergy Endowed Chair and Distinguished Professor of Information Science, at his research center, Collaboratorium for Social Media and Online Behavioral Studies (COSMOS).

“I think Dr. Agarwal is very helpful and friendly,” she said. “Our research lab, COSMOS, is very inspiring. We all look out for each other and help each other to succeed.”

This semester, Gurung was recently awarded third place in graduate research from the DART/Arkansas NSF EPSCoR Conference for one of her research projects in COSMOS, a study on narrative extraction and visualization from YouTube videos to identify deviant online behaviors.

Last year, Gurung was one of 10 students from around the country selected for the Acxiom Diversity Scholarship program. The initiative offers $5,000 scholarships to full-time students from diverse backgrounds majoring in computer science, computer information systems, management information systems, information quality, information systems, engineering, mathematics, and statistics or related areas of study.

With her master’s degree now complete, Gurung will continue her studies and research in UA Little Rock’s doctoral program in computer and information sciences.