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Lessons in Failure and Success Have Julia Farrell Ready for Takeoff

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Author(s)

Lorne Fultonberg

Writer

Lorne Fultonberg

 

Julia Farrell
Julia Farrell (Photo: Wayne Armstrong)

This was not what Julia Farrell had envisioned for the summer before senior year.

She was supposed to be spending those few months nurturing and accelerating her startup, not stuck in an office. But when her business partner left suddenly for another team, a last-minute telecommunications internship offered an immediate option.

Feeling like a failure, she looked out the window at the airplanes taking off and landing at nearby Centennial Airport. She wanted to fly, too.

“The more I thought about it, the more I thought ‘this sounds like a perfect Julia thing,’” says Farrell, who will graduate from the University of Denver this June. It had science, math, technology, excitement. After “four years of trying a million things” in college, Farrell saw the opportunity to take off and spread her wings. She signed up for flying lessons.

A year later, Farrell is ready to collect her hard-earned double degree in math and computer science, topped with a minor in physics. Her head, however, is still in the clouds. Pursuing her pilot’s license, she says, is the product of an invaluable yet unpredictable college experience.

The studious high school student from North Carolina came to Denver thinking she would major in physics and work in a lab. Her career took a turn when she got a taste of computer science and realized she had a knack for it. Hesitantly, she changed her major.

Her accomplishments in the field over the next few years have proven the decision wise. The ArtSpark app she co-created to promote local artists and galleries began to make money and took second place in the University’s Madden Challenge.

But her greatest achievement may be her work as co-creator of Boobi Butter — a breast salve that encourages women to perform cancer-detecting self-exams — and an accompanying app known as Norma. The products won first place in a women’s startup competition in Denver and earned third place in the international finals in Paris.

“I think I’m pretty proud of the way I’ve been able to just dive into projects and just see what happens,” Farrell says. “Some of them fail and you probably learn more from your failures than your successes.”

Try telling that to the Julia Farrell of four years ago.

“I’ve since loosened up quite a bit, actually,” she says. “I’ve relaxed a little on caring about the grades. I care a lot more about how I feel I’ve learned material. The relationships that I’ve made with friends and the clubs I’ve joined and the people I’ve met will last probably forever.”

In her four years on campus, Farrell has stacked her schedule with club tennis, the alpine and climbing clubs, the Society of Physics Students and Dynamize, DU’s entrepreneurship society. As president of the Women in Computer Science Club, she worked to weld a unified cohort of females in tech.

To learn more about Commencement at the University of Denver, please visit the Commencement website.

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