Greetings and salutations everyone!
As we progress through the first weeks of the Spring Semester back here at UAT, I find myself meeting a lot of new faces around campus and having the opportunity to meet all kinds of new people! And being a senior here, it's really interesting to see the background from everyone that I meet and the different majors that they partake in as well.
When people ask me about my education, they seem shocked to find out that I'm already on the final lap, about to graduate with plans of full time job placement with my internship and the like, and when I mention that I came all the way from Indiana, it shocks them even more! At that point, their number one question is:
Why did you choose to come to UAT if you were from across the country?
To me the answer was pretty simple. From around my sophomore year and onward, I grew to love computer programming and working with security in various systems for both Windows and Linux/Unix based environments, so I knew that I would want to pursue a career in that. Beforehand, I wanted to go into storyboarding/environment effects/art (drastically different right?) as digital illustration and art is a side passion of mine. Regardless with either route, I would have most likely ended up at UAT.
Having grown up in southern Indiana, my options were rather limited as to where I would go to. There were a ton of community colleges to choose from if I chose to go that route for my general education credits, however I believed that I would bring enough from high school that I wouldn't have to worry about my gen-eds too much. Otherwise there were a couple other schools such as the University of Louisville, Purdue, and the University of Bloomington that my parents were urging me to apply to.
Now, they're all great schools, however I did not believe they'd be the right fit for me. I had done college visits to a lot of campuses around the area, and others I knew from word of mouth or through media as they're a topic that is frequented about the high school students of the area, but none of them really stood out to me. In particular, I was looking for programs that were heavy in both Computer Science and Cyber Security in some way, shape, or form, but each of these Universities only offered a major in one or a minor in another, or that the program just wasn't well developed in my opinion.
That's when I started looking out of state, and through this, I was able to find UAT. I attended the UAT Fly-in Geek event (now known as the UAT Experience) in April of 2013 after having gone through the admissions process, just to see the campus for myself and to determine if this was to be my home for the next 3 years or so. My parents were initially completely against me going so far away for college, but they decided to give me a chance to see if I could find my place all the way out here.
Needless to say I did!
When I first came to UAT, in all honesty, it was a trainwreck turned into a miracle. It was not the University's fault at all, because my problems arose from my flight going down to Arizona, which proceeded to me landing at 1 AM instead of 6PM the previous day like I had planned. I arrived to a campus bursting with life even at the dark hours, which was the first thing that shocked me. I was worried that I would be waking up the student that I would be rooming with, and that the RA would already be unhappy with me about my late arrival, but here's a short summary about how it went down:
Me: Calling the RA
RA: "Hello this is the RA on call."
Me: "Yes, hi. So this is Nicholas, I talked with you earlier.. I just arrived on campus, I hope I'm not being a bother by asking for help."
RA: "Oh yeah! Hey man, yeah it's no problem. One sec I'm just about to get out of a game and I'll head right over. I'll bring your host with me too."
So I'm waiting in the lobby of the dorms where I look to the other building through the front windows and see a crew of maybe 12 or so people come out to sit outside and talk for a bit as the RA and my host(s) were making their way over. Immediately we introduced ourselves, they laughed at my story, then they asked if I wanted to head back over to the other building to continue playing games with them.
This proceeded into me staying up for the next 27 hours with all of the current students and other fly-ins as well, which made it an incredible experience to say the least.
To me, having a large amount of people up at the late hours and playing games/working on projects was unheard of. The community here was, for lack of better words, really chill, and I immediately felt at home (and with my "people") from the very start.
The game culture is something that we can all relate to, where if you play any kind of game, most likely there are a ton of people just as into it as you are (if not more). The community is pretty cool just cause we're all just a bunch of nerds/geeks with nothing better to do than play video games and more. I had such an incredible experience that my parents immediately saw my reactions and knew that there was no talking me out of going to school here.
It was here that I found my second family, a very close group of friends that are dependable and incredible in every way. From the beginning we all bonded over being freshmen, now we're the ones leading the cause and taking in every newbie and becoming an ever tighter community as well.
And here I am, 2 years and 5 months later, on the cusp of graduation with a BS in both Computer Science and Network Security.
Quite possibly being the best time of my life, there's been so much to do and so much to see! It's been a long road, but we all start from somewhere! :)
Until next time,