My Journey as a Computer Science Major


Published February 16, 2024 · 4 Min Read

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Discover what inspired Adriana to become a computer science major and how she is forging her own path in this growing field. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Female programmer coding on a desktop computer Credit: AleksandarNakic / E+ / Getty Images

I graduated from high school in 2020. And, like many recent graduates, I felt lost. My senior year was cut short, and the world was scrambling to respond to a pandemic. What was supposed to be an exciting time was now almost unbearably stressful as I had to reevaluate my choices.

While I stumbled through college to find what works for me, I found solace in an old childhood passion that led me on an exciting new path as a computer science major at Murray State University.

A Childhood Hobby Turned Major

As a child, technology always fascinated me. I was born in a time when technology was present, but it wasn’t nearly as prevalent as it is today. When I was in the eighth grade, my parents gave me my first desktop, and my passion for computers only grew from that point on.

I spent the next few years using sites like Codecademy and Hack This Site to learn more about computers and the applications I used. However, as I got older, it became more important to focus on the traditional, required subjects to graduate from high school and get into a good college. Homework and exam prep started piling up; I started setting aside my hobby and eventually forgot about it.

Due to classes being online and the anxiety of potentially leaving my family during a pandemic, I eventually decided that my best option was to go to a local college: Murray State University.

I began college as many first-year students do, unmotivated and unsure if I was making the right decision. The only thing I was certain of was that I wanted to spend my career helping people, so I set my major to pre-med. Unfortunately, my major made me miserable. I hated my classes and was underprepared for the amount of work that came with going to college.

During winter break, I was looking at Murray State’s website and dreaded going back. Then, while looking at the classes I would be taking in the coming years as a pre-med student, I stumbled upon the curriculum for computer science majors. At that moment, I was reminded of the time I spent learning to code as a kid, and the joy it brought me to build programs and applications from scratch. I couldn’t shake the feeling, and that’s when I knew pursuing medical school just wasn’t for me.

Coming to that realization, I began doing research on what a computer science degree entailed, potential career paths, and other peoples’ experiences. Within the month, I wrote an email to my current advisor and made the switch to become a computer science major.

Passion Is Contagious

When I began taking my intro computer science classes, the first thing I noticed was how enthusiastic my professors were. As a pre-med student, I was used to professors reading off PowerPoint presentations and then assigning homework for us to figure out on our own time.

However, in my first programming class, the first thing my professor Dr. Matthew Tennyson did was have us write our own program. It was a simple Java "Hello World" program, but he seemed happy to get to walk us through it and ecstatic when everyone had theirs running. In the next class, he walked us through what each part of every line meant, stopping and explaining anytime someone had a question. The dedication and love he had for computer science and teaching was apparent, and it helped solidify my feeling that I had made the right choice.

Murray State’s computer science program is very small, so Dr. Tennyson ended up teaching most of my classes. In every class, he showed the same enthusiasm he did in my very first programming course. No matter the topic, he would go out of his way to make sure everybody understood the material. There were some days in class where more time was spent answering questions than teaching new material, but everybody felt more comfortable with what we had learned by the end of it. Dr. Tennyson would also record and upload videos covering complex topics in case anybody needed a refresher.

Dr. Tennyson is also involved with the school’s Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), where he supervises various labs and workshops that the officers put on. This program has been the source of multiple opportunities for more experienced students to help new enrollees in the computer science program. Inspired by Dr. Tennyson, I volunteered to tutor for the ACM to mentor those who needed it.

Dr. Tennyson has become the biggest supporter and mentor for not only myself, but the majority of Murray State’s computer science students. His passion for computer science has driven us to do better and not lose sight of the love we have for our field.

Forging My Path

One of my biggest motivations for getting a computer science degree is that it sets me up to be able to help a large number of people. Computer science is a very versatile degree program, and getting this degree sets a student up for a multitude of potential careers and specialties.

Within my degree program, students must take at least two cybersecurity classes. The first class mainly focuses on hardware, while the second dives more into networking and the concepts within cybersecurity. It was within the walls of these classrooms that I realized my calling is within the field of cybersecurity.

While learning about the various attacks a company or individual may face, I began to think about how dangerous the internet is under the surface. If large companies with teams of cybersecurity experts can fall victim to basic attacks, then what is protecting the average person who just wants the added convenience of online services in their life?

This question led me to research how common cyberattacks are and how often they happen. Once I saw how heart-stopping the numbers were, I immediately began applying to cybersecurity internships. I knew an internship was the best way to apply the knowledge I learned from my computer science program, and I wanted as much hands-on cybersecurity experience as possible.

My ultimate career goal is to take the knowledge from my computer science degree and the experience I gain from working within the cybersecurity field and apply it to help reduce risk to the most people possible. I plan on forming a company that specializes in providing affordable services, spreading knowledge to individuals, and giving consultations to businesses.

The Algorithm for Success

Pursuing my degree has helped teach me the importance of hard work and perseverance. I successfully made it to my last year of college, and the past three years as a computer science major have been some of the most challenging yet rewarding times of my life.

Countless all-nighters have been spent trying to figure out why my program wouldn’t compile or reading through books on discrete math and algorithm analysis. Many of these nights led me to question whether I am good enough for a career in computer science. However, I never gave up, and the feeling that comes with finally understanding a difficult subject or completing a demanding assignment is incomparable.

Deciding to become a computer science major has improved my life exponentially. If I hadn't switched majors, I may not have reached my senior year of college. The greatest advice I could offer anyone considering computer science is this: Go for it. It is better to try a field out than to forever wonder what if. No matter how difficult it may be, if it is for you, never let yourself give up.

Meet the Author

Domonique James

Domonique is a senior majoring in computer science at Murray State University. Once Domonique graduates, she plans to continue her education and receive two master’s degrees: one in cybersecurity and another in computer science. She would ultimately like to use her degrees to form a company that creates affordable software to help people be online as safely as possible.

O’Dell is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance Student Network.

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