In three days, I will graduate with my bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Virginia Tech. In July, I will be moving to California to start what quite honestly feels like my dream job. After 4 years, I wanted to post a reflection about my path to this point in my life.
I decided to take ‘computer math,’ an introductory course to the computer science field, on a whim in 10th grade when my school began offering a ‘zero block’ English course – students could elect to come to school an hour early every day to take an additional class. I was between french and computer math, and chose the latter due because I had heard awful things about the french teacher at our school.
I fell in love with programming that first year. I was the youngest student in the class and one of 3 girls, but I adored the projects, writing algorithms, and seeing what I wrote come to life on the screen. I didn’t hesitate to take the AP Computer Science class the next year, and went to an engineering summer camp the summer before my senior year of high school. I applied to Virginia Tech and found out in November that I had been accepted to the college of engineering. I knew right away that computer science was what I wanted to study, and finished up senior year with a huge amount of excitement for what lay ahead in college.
My freshman year of college, I made friends in various organizations and started taking classes that I had never even heard of. I realized how few study skills that I had developed throughout high school, and pulled all-nighters for the first time in my life. I kept afloat, though, and got my first internship with Microsoft for the summer.
Sophomore year, I began to realize that I didn’t love programming the way everyone around me seemed to. I had loved my work, but I was lost the first time I tried to program in C. My course work wasn’t interesting the way it used to be. I had doubts about whether or not I was on the right path, but continued through with the knowledge that I loved what I was working on. This continued into my junior year, but then something interesting happened.
Junior year, I was able to start choosing my own CS elective classes, and I found my passion in software design. I found that I loved the process of designing and building a project, writing technical documents, doing audience research, reaching out to consumers, the problem solving aspects of design – all of it appealed to me in a way programming hadn’t in a long time.
The interest in programming returned my senior year. I personally believe that I have grown more this past year in college than any other. I accepted a full time job with Microsoft, started taking more classes that truly interested me, and learned how much more there is to computer science than just programming.
I am excited to walk across that stage on Saturday morning. While my time at Virginia Tech has given me amazing friendships and opportunities, I am ready to see where the next phase of my life takes me.