I am finally near the end of my education! It’s been a long and challenging journey. It started as a carefree high school graduate with no direction, motivation, or inspiration. I went to community college only because it was the thing to do, and my mom worked there so I got free tuition. If it weren’t for free tuition, I may have never gone to college.
What did this lead to? Me wasting my time, not putting in effort and getting sub-par grades as I did in high school. However, I had always had a passion for computers. Whether it was fixing computers, learning about software, or playing games. This led to me getting a job working computer sales at Best Buy; which further sparked my interest in computers.
During my 3rd year at Community College, I took an intro to Computer Science class. My Professor, Andrew Scholer, inspired me to dig deeper into computer science and the thought of building software with computers became exhilarating to me. It was also at this time that my mom stopped working at the college and I had to pay full price for tuition again. Ironically, this was one of the best things that happened for my education. It forced me to take my education more seriously since it wasn’t being given to me.
Coming to OSU & Advancing my Career
Fast forward two years and I have finally finished my associates degree in 5 years. Not great, but better than not finishing it at all. I was proud of myself. I was hoping to get a bachelors in computer science but I was unsure where to go after my associates. In my heart, I wanted to go to OSU but my GPA was too low to get into pro school. I had somewhere around a 2.7 after finishing my associates. Luckily, OSU decided to drop the pro school requirement right when I was looking to transfer. I was able to get accepted into the CS program and have a fresh start!
At this point I had advanced my career at Best Buy and was working as a repair technician at Geek Squad. It was inspiring seeing some of the crossover between the computer science I was learning at school and some of the systems I was working on at work. I started playing around with scripting in Bash and used some scripts to automate some of my work when I had to repair Apple systems. This is when I truly started seeing the value of computer science in practice.
No More Free Time
During my college career, I had been working full time and doing school part time. I thought that starting at OSU would be a good time to put all of my focus on school. So I decided to take one term of 16 credits. It was nice only working 10 hours a week, but the commute from Salem to Corvallis was very taxing. I also found that I spent most of my time trying to get everything done on time instead of immersing myself in the course material like I wanted to.
For this reason, I decided to take a different path and started looking for a new job so I could go back to part time school. I was hoping to find a job that paid better. One where I could apply my computer science knowledge and support my growing family. I initially got a job as a technician for the state of Oregon and worked there for a year. Eventually I moved into a more open ended role at a local business. I felt this new position would be a better opportunity to grow my career.
In my new role I’ve been able to apply programming experience by doing some scripting and system administration with PowerShell. The culmination of my job and education experience has made learning new technologies much easier. It feels like things are all starting to come together. It was difficult leaving a stable job with fantastic benefits, but I believe it was the right choice. Time management has been very difficult though. Working 45 hours per week, making time for my wife and seven month old, while taking 8 or more credits has been challenging.
The Coming Year
This will be the 8th, and possibly final year of my education. This journey has taught me the importance of hard work, time management, and dedication. At OSU I’ve been able to keep my grades over a full point higher than in high school and college. For me, all it took was some motivation and direction. For my capstone, I am hoping to get a project where I can utilize the teamwork skills I’ve learned while working in IT, as well as the programming skills I’ve learned at OSU. I am excited to work with a team to build a project that is something we can all be proud of!
Cheers to what should be a great year!