After graduating from Nease High School, I came to the University of North Florida on a Bright Futures Scholarship — not really knowing what I wanted to study or what career I wanted to pursue. Now, years later, I’m nearing completion of dual bachelor’s degrees in computer and information science and mathematics while beginning a career as a software engineer. I characterize my success at UNF as a collection of positive relationships and transformational learning experiences.
I was first inspired to pursue mathematics by the relationships with students and faculty in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. My involvement in student clubs and the honors society were positive experiences where both students and faculty collaborated on activities ranging from math competitions for local middle and high school students to bringing professional speakers on campus. The support from my professors and their encouragement to exceed expectations and succeed in my studies was incredible. They set the bar high for success.
Although I enjoyed mathematics, I struggled to find a career path that truly captivated me. I thought about the top-notch experience I had in a computer programming course. So I met with an adviser in the College of Computing, Construction and Engineering (CCEC) and discovered the same level of support and encouragement that I had found in the Mathematics Department. I then began my second program of study in computer and information science.
My experiences at CCEC were equally as positive. One day I walked into my adviser’s office with an idea about the research and development of a piece of software. Instead of being dismissed as a student with a small idea, my enthusiasm was encouraged and the idea grew into a research project after obtaining a SMART (Student Mentored Academic Research Team) Grant. This is the type of support that encouraged me to apply for a software engineering internship prior to graduation. After my internship at Potts Consulting Group in Jacksonville, I accepted a full-time position there and gained both my first professional mentor and a career that truly captivates me.
Just as I was convinced it was time to close the academic chapter in my life and settle into my career, I encountered yet another transformational learning experience in one of my final courses, Data Mining. I’m completely enamored with the subject. It has inspired me to pursue a master’s degree in statistics at UNF. My transformational experiences at UNF have really been a series of decision points, each of which in no small way have changed my life.