CRC’s First CSUCI Presidential Scholarship Recipient Graduates! Her Story by Noelle Abe.
In 2015, CRC established an endowment at California State University Channel Islands (CI) to provide four-year scholarships to deserving students seeking a Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) degree. The following essay by our first four-year scholarship recipient, Noelle Abe, chronicles her educational journey and where she is headed next.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been four whole years since I began studying computer science at CSU Channel Islands. The transition from homeschooled farm kid to college graduate seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. At the time, I had no idea where my life was going, but I’m thrilled to be where I am now. Here’s a short recap of my time at CI and my plans for the future.
I took an introductory class to computer science in my first semester because I didn’t have any experience programming in a classroom. I wasn’t sure if the skills I had developed on my own would cross over to an academic setting, so I was very cautious at first. But as the class went on, I became surer that computer science was the right major for me and that I wanted to learn more. Although my classes have gotten more difficult every semester, I’ve never wanted to change my major.
Last year, I studied abroad in the U.K., and it was an incredible experience. Although I do love my own university, I really enjoyed meeting people from many other countries and being able to travel by myself to so many beautiful places in Europe. I was able to learn how computer science is taught in another country and worked on some great projects while I was there.
After I returned home, I took over responsibilities for running a food pantry sponsored by First Baptist Church of Ojai. I currently work with Ventura County Food Share to hold a food distribution day once a month, and I’ve learned a lot about coordinating volunteers, organizing pantries, and complying with USDA regulations. I’ve enjoyed giving back to the community, and I hope it will continue running in the future.
This past semester, I was given the opportunity by the CI Computer Science department to travel to Texas for the Grace Hopper Celebration, which is a conference for women in technology. It was inspiring to see so many successful women in my field, and I hope my career will take a similar path someday. I was able to attend mentoring sessions, lectures, and a careers fair. While I was there, I interviewed for and received an offer from Honeywell for a software engineering position in Atlanta, Georgia, beginning in July. I will also pursue my master’s degree at Georgia Tech.
This year, I’ve also been working with a few other students on a capstone project, which is a password cracking computer for the Southern California High Technology Task Force, and it has been a lot of fun to learn more about hardware, since I’ve typically worked more on the software side of things. I’ve especially enjoyed learning how to use the password cracking software that we’ve installed on the machine. I’m also working with Dr. Michael Soltys, Professor and Chair of Computer Science at CI, to publish a paper about social engineering that I wrote while I was studying abroad.
The CRC President’s Scholarship has relieved a lot of financial pressure for both me and my family, with three other siblings currently attending or planning to attend college in the future. It allowed me to study abroad and gave me many networking opportunities through the university. I’m incredibly grateful to both CRC and CSU Channel Islands for believing in me and giving me so many opportunities to succeed. This scholarship has truly been a blessing, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me.