Meet Tyanin Opdahl!

January 27, 2023

Meet Tyanin Opdahl! Olympia native Tyanin plans to graduate in Fall 2026 with her masters in computer science. She is receiving her bachelors in computer science with a minor in creative writing in Fall 2025.

Why did you choose Western?

I chose Western because it was close to home, had a great Computer Science department, and provided an environment that I felt a lot more welcome in. I am a transfer student and was looking for a university that I really felt like I could thrive in—and now a couple of years later I know I made the right choice.

What do you like about Western?

The unique opportunities it provides and the abundant resources. I’ve had the opportunities to join projects and be in clubs that were never even offered at my previous university. The campus is gorgeous, I’ve become friends with a wide range of people I would never have otherwise.

How is your student ambassador experience?

My ambassador experience has been made up of a lot of fun opportunities to try new things—once I had the chance to help guide a Downtown Bellingham food tour (and try a bunch of delicious food.) I was also the face of Western’s annual Give Day campaign back in 2023 (my face was everywhere for a couple of months.) This job has also given me a lot of wonderful connections, for instance—I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet and work closely with Janelle Leger, the Dean of Western’s College of Science and Engineering. I’ve learned a lot from her and gotten to work on projects to better the college. I’d summarize by saying ambassadors are essentially a “catch-all” for odd jobs and events throughout Western. We are here to help in any capacity we can—whether that be through setting up events, providing tours, or mingling with guests during events.

Which professors do you work with?

Several! I’ve had the opportunity to do research with Dr. Yasmine Elglaly. We did research in accessibility within technology. I just published my first research paper about disability fairness within CS education and got to present it at the SIGCSE 2024 Technical Symposium this past March because of her. I have also worked a lot with Dr. Caroline Hardin, taking a lot of core CS classes with her and learning the building blocks of programming. In creative writing, my instructor Lee Gulyas motivated me to write a really fun satirical piece and has also worked with me to try to get it published!

Are you the beneficiary of philanthropy at Western (scholarship, grant, travel experience, etc)?

I am—and that philanthropy has made a world of difference in my academic life. Being able to have my needs met through opportunities/accommodations has given me the springboard into having a pleasant experience at Western while carrying optimism and excitement for my future.

What would you like to say to someone who has made a gift to support Western students and programs?

Thank you—your contributions provide opportunities for many students who would otherwise “fall through the cracks.” Personally, I cannot see myself having as much passion for my education without knowing I have the support system from faculty/organizations that are provided from your gifts. Your support has made a tangible difference in my life.

What do you do when you aren’t in class?

I play a lot of badminton and regularly weight-lift, go river-rafting frequently, play the electric bass in a band with my friends, and am a lifeguard/swim instructor. I currently have a personal coding project where I am creating a website that provides understandable info about different prescription drugs—such as the intended use, side effects, dosage amounts, and personal accounts of said prescriptions. I am also a huge eggs benedict fan and run an Instagram account dedicated to critiquing/rating all the eggs benedict dishes I eat at local restaurants.

Where is your happy place either on campus or in Bellingham?

I spend most of my time on campus in the computer labs within the CF building, so in a weird way that’s one of my favorite places on campus. I’ve experienced many long nights coding with my classmates. It has been in those labs that those classmates have become dear friends, which has created a lot of good memories there. Outside of campus, one of my favorite spots to be is on my back porch on the second floor of the house I live in. It has a fantastic view of downtown/the bay and I have also spent a lot of time hanging out with friends and sunbathing during the summer there.


What are your professional dreams and goals? Where could you see yourself in five years?

In the next five years I’d like to be in a place of stability. I want to be able to give back to my loved ones who have been supporting me throughout my life—particularly my mother. My life for the past couple of years has been defined by instability and the unexpected, so I am looking forward to having that calm that comes with self-sufficiency. Some more tangible goals I have are owning a sailboat and going sailing around the world for a bit, and becoming scuba certified.

Read more information about becoming a student ambassador here.