Chuchu Ma Memorial Endowed Presidential Scholarship

Feb 27, 2018 | EPS/EPF

Those who met Chuchu can tell you that she accomplished more in her 23 years than most people manage in an entire lifetime. Chuchu was born in China on February 28, 1994, daughter of Li Chen and Hengguo Ma. She came to live in the US at the age of three. Chuchu had a great relationship with her parents and loved them deeply. Family was a priority for her that made 1900 miles of geographical distance feel like next to none. She was the perfect daughter any parents could hope for. Her parents are so proud of her.

Chuchu consistently excelled at her work through both her performance and the heart and soul with which she approached everything. She was the 2012 Valedictorian of Klein Collins High School in Spring, Texas. She was a talented musician, playing both violin and piano, and brought her love of music to the University, where she was involved in the Engineering Chamber Orchestra as a performer and a leader.

Chuchu Ma graduating at UT

Chuchu loved coding and Computer Science for the sense of endless possibilities that the field brings, and that was how she lived her life: fully embracing the countless possibilities. Her passion for her chosen field didn’t start until she had already begun her studies at UT. She was introduced to CS by a friend and took such a liking to it that she changed her major.

Chuchu often expressed her desire to reach out to similar academically successful women, introduce them to CS, and give them an opportunity to pursue a career. It would be her wish to encourage and support other high-achieving and community-conscious students, especially women, to work towards a degree in Computer Science at UT.

Chuchu felt as much pride in other’s accomplishments as she felt about her own.  She frequently volunteered to mentor and teach in her free time.  She reached out to help fellow software engineers begin their new jobs and careers.  She was a person who built up and strengthened those around her.  She encouraged fellow technical women to take leadership development classes.  She advised students in a UT CS course for which she was the TA, and she would informally tutor anyone. Generous to a fault, she wanted to share every experience she had in life.

Chuchu Ma

Chuchu was well known for her infectious enthusiasm and willingness to step outside of her comfort zone to help others. As a full-time employee at Google, despite her short tenure, she had received personal thanks and awards from folks up and down the ladder. Her technical accomplishments racked up quickly at the same time that she worked hard to build a fun and inclusive team. Through her leadership, coordination, and hands-on work, she got task teams to work together for common goals.

Chuchu was the type of friend who could be called any time whether you needed someone to explore the city with or a shoulder to cry on without judgment. She was always bringing people together.  Somehow, she would throw together team hot-pot evenings with 20 people in a small apartment and 6 different utensils, meet everyone’s separate dietary needs, do it well, and do it with a smile. She organized groups to encourage reluctant exercisers, led hiking trips all over the Bay Area, and brought her friends to all sorts of orchestral performances, including her own.

Chuchu Ma at Google

Chuchu was adventurous and loved trying new things, from rock-climbing to making glass pumpkins to knitting, and was also a huge fan of anime, Pokemon, Avatar, RWBY, Hayao Miyazaki movies, and Nintendo games. She relished hosting game nights and wielded her red Nintendo 2DS the way her favorite characters did their blades. If you ever picked a Pokemon fight with her in Pokemon Sun/Moon, you had to prepare to lose.

And of course, Chuchu would disapprove if no one highlighted the fact that she was an absolute cat lover. She was a walking encyclopedia of the best cat forums on the internet; her Facebook page was decorated with cat photos; she spoiled her cat Twinkie; and any friends with cats would have to worry about impending cat-nappings. She had a goal to make everyone she met meow at least once.

Chuchu taught others to say “I am remarkable.” Now that she is gone, her family and loved ones hope that this endowment will continue to lift others up in their studies and in their careers in Computer Science.

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