Vivian Xu, Dual Degree Program, Computing Science ('10)

With plenty of hard work, and a dash of daring, dreams can become reality. Now a software engineer at Twitter in San Francisco, Vivian Xu had never been outside China when boarded a Vancouver-bound plane six years ago.

“The furthest I had travelled from my hometown was a five-hour car ride to Shanghai,” she says. But that didn't stop her embarking on an 8,000 km journey to study at SFU with the SFU and Zhejiang University Dual Degree Program (DDP) in computing science. It helped, she says, that she wasn’t alone.

“I arrived with a group of more than 25 people, and some DDP students from SFU had stayed with us in China. We knew some people here already and it was easy to make friends.”

A top student, who graduated with an almost perfect GPA, Xu received several scholarships and awards including a SAP Canada Scholarship and a Microsoft scholarship, and was a Google Canada Anita Borg Scholarship finalist. The scholarships also gave her valuable exposure to some of the world’s biggest technology companies.

“It was a big plus for my resume – I got the first job I applied to after graduation,” she says. That job was a software development position at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, WA.

It’s no surprise that Xu also took advantage of opportunities outside the classroom. She quickly fell in love with the natural beauty of B.C., the friendly people and good food. In fact, she still refers to Vancouver as her “favourite city." 

Xu is a passionate ambassador for women in computing science, and former president of SFU’s Women in Computing Science (WICS) student group.

“Girls shouldn’t intimidated by computing science,” she says. “I have seen so many successful female engineers who are doing really intense technical work. They are such an inspiration and send an important message to see past the stereotype that computing science is for men only.”