Hey! I’m Efraín ’23, a new alumnus of Cornell and I studied computer science here at Cornell.
I wanted to dedicate this blog post to the Diversity Programs in Engineering (DPE), Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), and Underrepresented Minorities in Computing (URMC), for helping me stay in Cornell. These clubs and organizations played a crucial role in getting me on my feet this year, and making sure I can walk the stage this May.
Let me tell you about my path this senior year. The story starts at the tail end of junior year, after I happened to take Algorithms and Compilers at the same time – awful mistake. I didn’t know it at the time, but Compilers was just about the hardest CS course offered by Cornell. And I was taking it alongside the other hardest CS course at Cornell: Algorithms. I was spending more than 40 hours a week just between homework for those two classes. I’ll be honest, that was not great for trying to keep a work-life balance. By the end of the semester, I was really feeling the effects of it, and I felt I needed to escape this constant cycle of work. That’s where SHPE and URMC come in. I remember, I had been a part of URMC my freshman year, but my participation kinda dropped off Junior year. It wasn’t until the last event of the year: the URMC field day, when I finally got back into it. And man, was I glad that I did. In the span of that one hour, I met so many new people, and each and every single one of them was so friendly. These are people who you always say hi to when you run into them around campus. More importantly, if you find out you’re in the same class with them, it’s basically an instant connection. You now have a study buddy for that class, and that class suddenly becomes so much easier to handle. I don’t know why I let myself solo struggle through classes so much junior year, because this senior year has been so much easier.
Then comes senior year. Some other situations happen, external to school, which suddenly makes it more difficult for me to stay in school: money. All the tech companies are laying off staff, I can no longer secure a return offer for after graduation. Plus, my sister also just started going to college, and my dad can only support one tuition bill. Since I at least had some money saved up from this summer’s internship, I could pay for part of my own tuition. But that’s when I have to turn to loans, scholarships, and finding myself a job. For this, I need to thank DPE and SHPE. DPE has some of the nicest staff you’ll ever meet, and they genuinely want to see you succeed. They surprised me with a scholarship right when I needed it most, and for that I am ever so grateful. And I wanted to thank SHPE, because they were so incredibly helpful for my professional development. I knew I needed a job, and thanks to SHPE, I was able to attend the conference in Charlotte this year (for free), secured 6(!) whole jobs, including one company who wanted to hire me immediately, working part time during the school year. Without SHPE, I would not have this job, which I’m using right now to support myself. And that’s not all: I knew that this last semester was going to be a hard one, given that I had been unlucky before with classes, and it just so worked out that of the last 5 requirements for me to graduate, 3 of them were project courses, meaning it’s going to be a busy semester ON TOP of the fact I have a part time job. So I explained my situation to DPE, who were so so so incredibly helpful in getting me the resources I needed to graduate. They nominated me for the Learning Strategies Center (LSC) Scholarship, which would cover all $6,000+ it would cost to take a winter course, allowing me to lighten my course load for the spring semester.
I cannot emphasize enough just how thankful I am for DPE, SHPE, and URMC.
Thank you DPE for genuinely trying to help your students. You guys are the friendly faces in a sea of unknowns here at Cornell.
Thank you SHPE for giving me access to so many job opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to find myself.
Thank you URMC for being the social net: a whole club of familiar faces, who are always willing to help each other out.
I am ever so thankful to be here, writing this blog post in my senior year, looking forward to being able to walk the stage. Forget the clichés, I mean it when I say it: I wouldn’t be here without them. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!
Peace out ✌️
—Efrain, computer science