My Introduction to Computer Science:
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but frankly, I didn’t know much about computer science and never really had heard about programming in high school. I honestly thought that because I was proficient in Microsoft Word and was a pretty fast typer compared to my friends, I was pretty damn good with computers. HAHA.
But that all changed when I helped organize couple Hackathons (HackATL) as part of an organization called EEVM as an undergrad at Emory University. To this day, I remember the moment so clearly: when I stood stunned and in awe, watching participants, low on sleep, typing away at their computers into the night. I can confidently say that it was one of the defining moments that made me attempt at studying computer science.
Later that year, I interned at New Profit, a venture philanthropy fund, where I learned about several NGOs leveraging technology for social good. One that had stood out to me the most as a Biology major was Noora Health, which in partnership with some Indian hospitals, uses an iPad app in order to interactively teach patients and their families for effective recovery to lower readmission rates. I was fascinated by how a few lines of code could deliver potentially huge, positive impacts in the world.
My decision to go into CS:
However, as a double major, it was hard to spend quality time learning how to program (at the time I only knew about Codecademy) and after graduation, I was so focused on finding a job and trying to stay in the US that I just did not have any mental capacity to focus my energy elsewhere.
Luckily, I found a job working in clinical research which at the beginning I thought was fascinating, but soon I lost interest because I found the work to be monotonous and unsatisfying. I am in no way saying that clinical research overall is boring but it just wasn’t for me. I wanted to see immediate-ish results from the work that I had put in and instant-ish gratification of the mind (If you’re reading this, I’m sorry, Eric! But thank you so much for the opportunity because without you, I wouldn’t be where I am now!)
So one day, I came home from work and decided to play around on Codecademy. Then one thing led to another, and I had enrolled myself in CS50 at Harvard Extension School and in Discrete Math at Boston University Metropolitan College for the upcoming semester.
Truthfully, I wish I could say that I only remember the good parts about CS50. Apparently, it’s one of the most popular classes at Harvard University, but despite doing relatively well, I found the class to be very challenging and at times discouraging. I’ve met people who have also taken the class and only have nice things to say about it. But as a total beginner, It really made me question my mental abilities/capacity and to be honest, there were a few times that I wanted to cry and give up. I spent countless of hours doing problem sets that at the time seemed to make no sense to me and I was very frustrated.
HOWEVER, with all of that being said, CS50 did give me those moments where I could not stop screaming “I DID IT! I DID IT!” over and over again whenever my program compiled and ran successfully (obviously I dedicated myself to daily TA-hours).
The feeling was completely addictive AND…I guess that’s why I am where I am now — in a Master’s program in computer science!
Please feel free to comment and share your own stories. I would love to hear them!