Leading by Example: Being a Woman in Informatics with Diana Tran-Yee

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“If you are persistent and passionate, you can actually achieve anything that you desire. And being a woman in tech is actually very empowering because I feel that I can lead by example, and also provide other women with something to aspire to…We can help each other succeed as we understand the struggles we face each day. By being a collective team, we can make progress together.”

Diana Tran-Yee, ’21 MS in Informatics
José, California 

Diana Tran-Yee grew up with a special interest in coding computers and technology.

“My first programming book was given to me by a good friend. So in my early days, I loved reading books about JavaScript, HTML and different types of codes. I’d create websites for friends and family. I remember staying up late at night, even on the weekdays and not wanting to sleep because I was so excited to start programming code.”

This excitement followed Diana into her adulthood as she went on to receive her bachelor’s at San José State University in Management Information Systems, before finding her current position as a program manager at Visa, dealing primarily with API (Application Program Interfaces) products.

She explained that APIs are part of a code that helps computer programs communicate with each other using requests and responses. For example, if a customer makes a purchase, an API product can verify that purchase to avoid potential scams and fraud. 

Diana also reflects on the opportunity to go to graduate school and pursue her interests in technology in the first place. 

“I was born in Canada, but my parents were from Vietnam. So in the country where my parents came from, there actually aren’t many women who study or work in STEM fields. I feel grateful that I have been given the opportunity to represent women in the tech field who get full and equal opportunities. I believe that I can celebrate not only what we’ve done, but what we can actually do.” 

With that in mind, that is how she found herself searching for a Master’s program that would help further her career and her understanding of APIs, and that’s how Diana found herself applying to study for a Master of Science in Informatics at San José State University. 

Returning to School

While Diana was excited to continue learning, she admits she was nervous, too.

“I knew that it would require a lot of dedication and time and effort because I would continue working full-time – and that my nights and weekends would be very busy with studying after work hours. But, I knew that if I put my time, effort and dedication into focusing on obtaining this master’s degree that in the long run, it would be an advantage to my career and even just my lifelong learning and self-development.”

Of course, it helped that Diana was already interested in the subjects she was learning once she started her program. Some of Diana’s favorite classes included the Computer Digital Forensics course Network Security both taught by Tonia San Nicolas-Rocca.

“I enjoy learning about information security and assurance,” Diana said. “Learning about compliance and data loss prevention was really interesting.” 

She also liked learning more about network security, a subject that she had already obtained several certifications in prior to pursuing her MS degree and found her courses in project management useful too. 

“I really liked reading and learning more about the strategies and techniques for project management, which include the life cycles, the stakeholder management scope and other project planning tools.”

Even with her background, Diana felt she still had a lot to learn, and she greatly appreciated the courses and instructors she had during her time at the iSchool. And she’s also thankful to have had her family support system, especially her husband, Mike Yee.

“I’m just very lucky to have people in my life who’ve supported me and my career and my aspirations. I’ve also been lucky to have been in love at this point of my life and have been able to marry that person and so I feel very lucky that he has been there to support me through my education while I had to work and study and see my successes today.”

Learning and Growing 

Diana graduated with her Informatics degree and a specialization in Cybersecurity and Privacy as well as a Phi Kappa Phi membership, which Diana notes proudly is only offered to the top 10% of graduating students at San José State University.

Diana is also proud of being a part of a winning team at Visa US Inc., as well as a Visa API Community Moderator, where she worked on an award-winning developer portal. 

On top of that, Visa was happy she finished her program, too. 

“It did change something for me. I can see that it affected my career positively – after I finished the program, I got quite a bump in my role and an increase all around,” she said. “And I didn’t even ask for it.”

Diana credits her parents with being the role models that influenced her to pursue her dreams and her spouse, who supported her through her graduate studies. 

“My parents have always given me a solid foundation that helped prepare me for many important and critical situations. I feel that they have provided me with a lot of strength, energy and power. The positive influence that they have had on me has motivated me to become a better person in  both my career and personal life.”

Diana is still not done learning, and she doubts she ever will be. “I also look for professional mentors, who are in the same background as me and who are in the same field so that I can ask them questions and get advice from them. I also enjoy being a mentor to others myself.”

Advice for the Future 

Part of that mentoring has included encouraging women when they have come to her with questions about following in her footsteps or reaching their own career goals, no matter how nervous those goals make them feel. 

“I actually tell others that if you really want to do something, but you have something holding you back, you can actually take control of the situation and conquer that fear.” 

When talking about what advice she would give to potential students interested in Informatics, Diana said that they should be passionate about what they do – and if they are passionate about technology and business, then this degree may be right for them.

“I definitely felt that my work experience helped me along with the program because a lot of the discussions or the reporting related to what I saw in my current role or my previous role, helped me elaborate on certain topics. So not only was I able to apply the knowledge I learned in my current role to the course, but I was also able to apply what I was currently learning in Informatics to my work, as well. So it was a win-win situation.”

For those unfamiliar with the field of Informatics, Diana reiterates that it is very STEM-focused. 

“I think it’s also great for women as well to pursue STEM. It just shows that there are opportunities for women within the STEM field and within my programs such as Informatics at San José State. So that’s actually very empowering to know that women can reach new levels.”

In many ways, Diana feels it’s an exciting time to get involved in Informatics now, more than ever. 

“If you are persistent and passionate, I believe that you can actually achieve anything that you desire. Being a woman in tech is actually very empowering because I feel that I can lead by example, and also provide other women with something to aspire to. We can actually help each other succeed as we understand the struggles we face each day. By being a collective team, we can actually make progress together.”

Check this out!  

Diana recommends the book The Four Disciplines of Execution by Chris Mick Chesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling to any grad student that’s trying to get organized. 

“It’s about achieving your wildly important goals and it relates to work as well. It shows a person how to organize their day and what to focus on. So I found that a really great book to read.”