As a senior at Saginaw Valley State University, I have been given many opportunities that have provided me with growth and qualifications for my career going forward. SVSU has been a wonderful experience allowing me to meet people from all over the world with diverse backgrounds. With my final two years here at SVSU being changed by the COVID-19 virus the experience has not been quite the same. With most classes being fully online, most students chose to stay off-campus, harming the community aspect of the university and even some people’s mental health and grade point average. We overcame such challenges as a community, everyone wore masks to prevent the spread of the virus and most got the vaccine here on campus. Allowing us to go back in person before some schools were able to. Now that most classes are back to being fully in person, for the time being, that community aspect has come back to the university and it is better than ever.
I have taken advantage of a lot of opportunities on campus. I have two on-campus jobs that have taught me a lot. I am a computer science and social science tutor at the Center for Academic Achievement in the university library. There I learned how to help people through problems. Through my experience as a tutor, I was able to meet a lot of people from all different majors around campus. I was able to learn more about my major as well because my tutees were trying to solve the same problems that I solved when I was in the same classes, but in different ways that I never thought of before. Along with tutoring, I am also a student researcher, where I learned a lot about machine learning, android development, and cybersecurity. During my experience researching, I have worked on COVID-19 fake news detection, drone localization, news classification, peer-to-peer networking, decentralized databases, social cybersecurity, and data mining. I have one publication and hopefully four more on the way by the time I graduate.
Even though I am not going for a graduate degree just yet, I still had the wonderful opportunity to attend a graduate course instead of an elective. Therefore, I was able to see what it would be like to attend graduate classes. It is a lot like what I do for work as a student researcher, but with even more freedom on what to research. The class I am taking has a focus on android development and that is it. As long as my research is related to android, I can do whatever research I want to.
My work as a research student taught me enough about machine learning and gave me a connection with a professor to allow me to co-found and be the president of a registered student organization on campus. The RSO is called Machine Learning Club @ SVSU. I am very excited to meet our online members in person for the first time this Monday! We started the RSO over the summer and were able to get members using Discord even though everything was online. The RSO allows me to teach my peers about the advanced topic of machine learning. I am excited to teach them classification and image detection this year before I graduate. We hope to get speakers from other universities as well.
SVSU and PSA have also introduced me to volunteer work, which is very rewarding. I volunteered to be the president of the RSO that I have cofounded. I also volunteered to teach fourth graders, here on campus, how to code through the program known as Hour of Code. Hour of Code helps spark an interest in computer science and programming in children so that they will learn more about it in the future. The fields of computer science have a high demand for employees, which is only growing larger. Hour of Code hopes to spark interest in all k through 12 students in hopes that they will major in STEM.
I also had the wonderful opportunity to have one of the best computer science capstones in the state. It is a year-long course where we are working on creating a website. The website allows students to meet fitness instructors that specialize in different physical activities. The website will hopefully serve as a replacement for the site Zumba. We are creating the site for a non-profit organization. The site is also going to have a community forum aspect and I am excited to work on such a project before entering the industry. The project will be a perfect addition to my resume, especially if I get a more important role on the team as a leader.
Tips I have for incoming freshmen are to get out of your dorm and meet people! Do not waste your college experience staying with friends you are comfortable with. Go and meet some additional friends. In college, you can meet more lifelong friends that are interested in the same exact things as you. If someone has the same major as you they are probably a lot like you and have similar interests. Also keep yourself busy, if you find your first two years easy, challenge yourself and pick up some extra opportunities like I did. You are here to learn and if you aren’t learning anything you are doing something wrong. But do not forget to have fun as well whether that being parties or even group projects that you are interested in such as robotics or car mechanics.