Major: Computer Science
Minor: Creative Writing
How did you decide on your major?
As a kid I always liked working with my hands - Legos, aluminum assembly kits, etc. Whenever anyone would ask me, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" for lack of a better term I would usually say "inventor". When I got to high school, I took a lot of math and physics classes with an intent to go to study mechanical engineering in college, until I realized how little I enjoyed those courses and realized I would have been in for a terrible four years if that was what I spent all my time doing in college. In sophomore year though, a couple of my friends were going to a hackathon, and I decided to tag along. I was instantly hooked. My love for building cool stuff wasn't just given an outlet, it was infinitely more accessible to me. You don't need money for raw materials when you're coding, you just need an idea and a computer. I kept going to hackathons throughout high school, and when the time came for me to register for classes at Rutgers, there was no reason for me to study anything else.
Do you have a favorite class/professor within your major?
My favorite class so far was definitely CS214 (Systems Programming). In a lot of the classes that we take within the CS majors, especially all of them in the first two years, the focus is on teaching you how to think like a programmer, understand programming and the very basics of the system on which you'd be running your programs - Systems kind of jumps into how users actually use computers, and how that stuff specifically works. The things that I learned in Systems definitely helped me form really useful connections in my head that made me understand Linux systems and infrastructure a lot better, which has informed a lot of the side projects and internships that I've worked on pursuing.
What are your favorite academic experiences outside of your major?
By and large, being a Creative Writing minor has been really fulfilling. In addition to being a credit-intensive major, CS courses can definitely be very time-consuming, and for someone as bad at time-management as I am, stressful. Creative Writing has given me opportunities to turn the computer science part of my brain (which I love dearly) off when I need a break and work on something that challenges me intellectually and creatively in a different way.
What are your plans following graduation?
I want to live in New York City, and work for a company that holds themselves to the highest standard when it comes to tech ethics. A lot of the work that I've done as president of the Undergraduate Student Alliance of Computer Scientist, (the premiere CS club here at Rutgers) and as a Coach with Major League Hacking (the Official Student Hacker Community) is building an inclusive space for CS majors, especially those who are overwhelmingly underrepresented in the major. Additionally, I try to challenge CS majors to think about their role as the engineers on some of the largest and most impactful platforms in the world; there's a lot of power in a position like that, and being in that position should invite a level of consideration about how it should be used. I want to work for a company that would allow me to continue that work, and one that reflects those values.
What advice do you have for incoming students?
Something that has been a really helpful guiding principle for me throughout the three years I've been at Rutgers so far is asking myself "How can I leave Rutgers even just a little bit better than it was than when I arrived here?" At the very minimum, this has put me in a position where I've found a group of people who are working on something I'm passionate about, and helped them in whatever goal they were working on accomplishing. Getting involved in any community is great because it gives you a chance to make friends with a common interest and pursue opportunities that are relevant to you and your interests, but for me, getting involved in the CS community empowered me to see places where I could contribute to the betterment of the very community that took me in, whether that was helping reorganize one of the computer labs on campus to make it easier to spend time in, using my programming knowledge to work on projects that help the Rutgers student body, or even something as simple as talking to company representatives I met at hackathons to see if they were interested in hiring Rutgers students for internships or full time roles and passing that information onto the board members of the various clubs.
When you arrive at RU, maybe your way of getting involved and making a positive difference will be better than mine; but as long as you can find a space that values your unique perspective and skillset, I think your college experience here will be really fun and fulfilling.