CS Alumna Chris Bryan: A 0/1 thinker in an uncertain world
Chris Bryan remembers the first time she recognized herself as a computer scientist:
It was 1985, my junior year in CS@VT. I was participating in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Bowl-a-thon event that we did as a department at the time. I remember standing at the back of the alley watching the pins being lifted and reset after each bowl. I said to my friends, “Oh my gosh, that is so cool. I can totally see that program in my head.”
My engineering friend said, “What program?! That’s mechanical!”
“Yeah,” I said, “but it would be so easy to write a program that connects pin setting and resetting with scoring.”
Look at me, I remember thinking, I’m starting to see the world algorithmically!
Bryan, who currently serves as the vice president of information technology and public policy at Clarity Child Guidance Center in San Antonio, Texas, is sometimes surprised to find herself immersed in a career focused on mental health.
“I’ve always been a 0/1 thinker, but I’ve landed in a field that defies that kind of absolute logic,” Bryan said. “There is so much grey area that I’m testing my problem-solving skills constantly!”
Bryan’s role with Clarity and her own passion for the work have her grappling with complex, ill-structured problems as a lobbyist, frequently traveling to the State House in Austin to present and advocate for policies connected to administering mental health care for children. This policy work, itself a form of problem-solving, addresses technological solutions to gaps in access and issues of interoperability surrounding mental health in Texas.
Reflecting on her own career trajectory, Bryan encourages CS students to look inside themselves to find what they have to give the world.
“When you find what is most important to you, use your skills to apply yourself in that area,” she advised. “Recognizing the value that I bring to a field that I am passionate about, allows me to fill my tank and keep going. I’m always energized and motivated because I know my work matters.”
A proud, active Hokie, Bryan co-founded the San Antonio Chapter of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association in 2007. This 600+ member family of Alamo City Hokies is a dedicated community that gathers to watch the Hokies play and to celebrate their continued commitment to Ut Prosim in their everyday lives.
To learn more about Chris Bryan and her accomplishments, please see the following articles:
- Computer science alumna problem-solves policy for children’s mental health
- 50 for 50 Spotlights: Chris Bryan ‘87