Yashema Mack

I was first introduced to High Performance Computing (HPC) and Mary Ann Leung at the Richard Tapia conference in 2009, where she gave a presentation in the doctoral showcase. Her presentation was so profound that I, merely a student in Computer Science trying to find my niche and how I would advance in the field, wanted to know more about what HPC was and how I could get involved. I was amazed to see a women of Mary Ann’s caliber – distinguished, refined, and incredibly intelligent, explain who she was and how she got to that point in her life with such confidence and grace. It blew me away!

It was an absolute no brainer that when I saw her name on the SC09 Broader Engagement marquee of speakers that I would attend to fill my palette with what she had in store next.  Mary Ann led a specialized session entitled Pathways to Success: Navigating Academia and Your Career, Overcoming Obstacles, and Identifying Resources. It was like she was reading my mind!!! In that session I was asked to take a journey down memory lane, take a pit stop to a city called The Present and gas up before getting on the highway to a destination called My Future.  In one swoop I was able to identify the challenges I’ve faced and the obstacles I had to overcome in my past to get to where I was then, and dig deep within myself to discover what I really wanted to do and where I wanted to be in the future. It was extremely emotional for me and therapeutic. It…changed…my….life!

Because of Mary Ann’s giving heart and spirit, her attentiveness to detail, and her compassion for people, I was able to proceed forward in school proactively, progress in my career confidently, and develop the willingness to donate my time unselfishly to passing on her legacy of “People first” to the future scientists, researchers, etc., in the STEM fields. It is an honor to know Mary Ann and delight in some of her experiences. It has truly been a privilege to work with her as well.