From Gaming to Grad School
Until recently, I had never thought about going to graduate school; I just assumed that I would be able to find my dream job directly after I finished my degree. A first-generation college student, I have had to navigate the path of higher education on my own. I knew very little about my postgraduate options or what future employers were looking for in applicants, and my knowledge of graduate schools was devastatingly limited. It was only after I started my research internship with the Charlotte Research Scholars program that my future began to solidify into an exciting and achievable shape.
For the past several months I’ve been working under a graduate student who has a passion for exercise games. Our goal is to collect data that will demonstrate how gaming can be used as an efficient form of exercise. Recently, we made the decision to alter the study so that it will also incorporate the game flow elements of my research. I will now be testing the exercise game that I created to measure a player’s engagement level while they play. The very changeability of the study is thrilling! There are always questions to answer and opportunities to explore my unique passions.
In the future, I want to dive into the topic of women in gaming. There is so much room for women to achieve in that field, and graduate school will provide me with the tools I need to explore it. And that’s the most exciting part: finding out exactly what you are passionate about and then dedicating yourself to that passion!
Like research programs, graduate schools offer students (and professors) the opportunity to examine a specific topic from all angles. In my own experience, being able to explore and more fully realize your passion is immensely rewarding, especially when your project is innovative and worthwhile. No matter how small the contribution, you’re able to leave the project knowing that you, and only you, made that particular mark. And that is what many graduate schools give students in my field: a real chance to learn, grow, and create something that will significantly change some aspect of computer science. It’s an empowering act.
Now, I look forward to graduate school. I want to help show the world — and minorities and women in particular — that a higher education and a dream career are possible. I want everyone to have an equal and fair chance to get the education, job, and salary that they deserve.
Earning a higher degree will never close doors; the opportunities for individuals with graduate degrees are widespread. Graduate school, by its very nature, is tough. That is what makes it worthwhile.