The College of Computing community celebrated its new alumni last week just prior to Commencement for the 2017 Spring semester.
This year for the first time, separate celebration events were held for graduate and undergraduate students. The Dean's New Graduate Alumni Reception was held on May 4 at Georgia Tech’s historic Academy of Medicine. Undergraduate students were honored the following day, May 5, during the Dean's New Undergraduate Alumni Celebration in the Klaus Advanced Computing Building atrium.
“For a long time we honored both our undergraduate and graduate students together, and then a few years ago we launched an online master’s program in computer science that you may have heard of,” said GT Computing Dean Zvi Galil during the new graduate alumni event.
“When those students began to graduate, we started holding a reception for them in addition to including them in our regular new alumni celebration, and it quickly became apparent just how different undergraduate and graduate student are – especially our OMS CS students.”
OMS CS graduate Cindy Schaller of Minneapolis, Minn. agreed.
“It was eye-opening to see the variation in the students of OMS CS. As a [teaching assistant], I was exposed to the work many of them are doing, and the approaches varied quite a bit,” said Schaller, a senior developer with United Health Group.
“[Seeing all these people is] like all the people from the screen come to life,” said Bill Bradee, a new OMS CS graduate and AT&T development engineer from Dallas, Texas. “Now they’re in three dimensions! [This event] literally has added a new dimension to my education.”
The event was emotional for some of the new graduates.
Lauren Winston, who has just earned her MS CS degree, said, “I’m going to miss all my friends and family at Georgia Tech. Jen [Whitlow] and Cedric [Stallworth in Outreach, Enrollment, and Community] have been like family to me.” Winston is going to work for Google as a software engineer.
Addressing the new graduate alumni and their gathered family and friends on May 4, Galil said, “Graduate students – especially Ph.D’s – through their research careers, often end up driving the direction of computing itself.
“They push the boundaries of knowledge, whether they work in universities, government labs, or in industry. They often end up literally guiding the future of computing by teaching the next generation of computing students.”
In all, 212 students earned OMS CS degrees this semester. This brings the program’s total number of graduates to 489 since it began in January 2015.
The day following the graduate student celebration – which included those earning campus and online master degrees and those earning doctoral degrees – more than 240 GT Computing undergraduate students were honored for earning bachelor degrees in computer science or computational media this semester.
During the May 5 celebration, Galil said, “We are here to honor the most recent members of a very exclusive club: the community of GT Computing graduates.”
“To our newest members, I say this: You have opportunities that not all new college graduates have. I urge you to make the most of them. Look for a chance to make an impact. Find a job that pays you well and that you enjoy, to be sure, but also realize that our future will be shaped by computing and all it enables us to do.”
Stallworth, assistant dean for Outreach, Enrollment, and Community, also offered the new alumni some words of advice.
“Look to your left, look to your right. These are the people you will run the world with.”