CSpotlight: Leveraging the Integrated Program and Side Projects

Why did you choose to study computer science specifically at the University of Minnesota? 

I liked the industry in Minneapolis and I thought that I would gain a lot more connections if I study at the University of Minnesota. I also loved the College of Engineering and Sciences as a school because if I ever wanted to switch my major, I could switch to some other science or engineering major that's offered in the school. Other schools had computer science separate from their engineering program so the University of Minnesota became a good choice for me for that reason.

How did you become interested in computer science? 

My mom and dad are currently working in the software engineering field and I was given a computer to tinker with at the age of 3. I became interested in computers at a young age but I did not pick up coding until my senior year of high school. One of the main reasons why I wanted to do computer science is because I have so many interests in regards to which fields I want to work and computer science is immersed in so many different fields today. I wanted the flexibility of being able to work anywhere I wanted and on projects that would create a positive impact on the world.

What made you decide to pursue the integrated program? What are some aspects that you have enjoyed so far from the program?

I found out about the integrated program in the Spring 2019 semester. I immediately told myself I wanted to do it because it was an amazing opportunity to earn a masters degree in 5 years. Normally, doing a masters program will take students about 1.5 years to complete but I like how the integrated program allows you to take credits for the masters program while you are finishing your undergraduate program which allows me to complete my masters in 2 semesters.

How did you decide to become a TA for the CSCI class? How has being a TA helped you academically?

I wanted to become a TA for computer science classes because I just like the aspect of helping others and I am also interested in the teaching aspect of it. Over the years in college, I have grown to respect all the TAs I had in my classes and how amazing they are. I also wanted to be a TA just like the TAs before me and create a positive impact.

Tell us more about your involvement with Code the Gap! What kind of curriculum did you plan for the student group?

I have been the curriculum planner for Code The Gap ever since the beginning of the club’s formation. I create a python curriculum which is used by the volunteers to teach python to middle school and high school students at different schools. I joined Code The Gap because I wanted to use the knowledge I learned from being at the U to create a positive impact in the communities around me.

What advice do you have for incoming computer science students?

Some advice I have for incoming Computer Science students is to not wait until you take class to learn a new skill in computer science. The computer science classes at the University of Minnesota are amazing but it's very important that students understand that they are going to learn more from doing personal projects than taking courses which may teach you just the fundamentals of a subject. I would advise students to take a dive into any topic in computer science that they take interest in and really getting hands-on experience is the most valuable experience you will have which you may not find in a classroom environment.

What are your plans after graduation?

The 4 years I spent in college were amazing but I did not have too much time to stop and think about my life because things were always busy for me. After I graduate from my masters, I plan to take 6 months to travel to India where there is a yoga institute. I want to live there and do the practices they offer there to just reset myself before I jump into my work life. I want to give myself some time to think about what I really want to do with my time and energy in my life.