I became interested in computers at the age of nine because of my mother who taught me how to install and use different applications on the computer. This made me advanced in knowing how technology worked, compared to my peers. With the teaching of those now simple things I became fascinated with computers and the way they worked. Doing some independent research for college I decided my junior year of high school that I would pursue a degree in Computer Science. In August 2011, I took my very first ever computer science course at Spelman College. Since then I have not looked back since because I knew then and now that computer science is not only my future, but also the future. It is exciting knowing that I can possibly do something with technology that can help people or change someone’s life for the good.

My freshman year at Spelman College I joined the Spelman College robotics team also known as SpelBots. They are the first all-female and African American team to compete in the International RoboCup. I also joined the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) programming team. Being in these organizations I have developed a stronger passion for computer science. The SpelBots team not only helped with my coding skills, but it also developed an awareness of minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). It has been a pleasure participating in many outreach events across the United States to inform minority students about STEM and how fun it can be. As I continue my undergraduate journey, I plan to participate in many more STEM outreach events to encourage young women and other minorities on the importance of STEM. My goal is reach at least three minority students a year.

As a computer science major I am making a choice to change the world through STEM. At the end of my freshman year I acquired my first Undergraduate Research Experience under the instruction of Dr. Alfred Watkins, to develop a Bioinformatics website for biology students. The website was created to appeal to different learning styles (i.e. visual, auditory, and kinesthetic). Within the website created, students had the ability to access lecture topics on a deeper level than what was taught in class. The website also had assessments where students could challenge their knowledge of a certain informatics topic. When the website complete a user experience study was conducted at Spelman College to see how useful the Bioinformatics website. This project allowed me to travel to Marietta, Georgia to present at the Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges (CCSC). As a side project to this Undergraduate Research Experience I was instructed to develop a “Big Idea” to also do research on. My “Big Idea” dealt with Alzheimer’s and music.

During the fall semester of my sophomore year, I decided to do further research on Alzheimer’s and music, in memory of my late grandmother who passed away from this terrible disease. Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia, is a disease of the brain that causes long-term memory lost, confusion, irritability and aggression, difficulty with speech, and patients. Utilizing expert advice, I have developed an Android mobile application to assist nonprofessional caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients in the diagnoses and treatment of patients suffering from this disease. This project has been presented at the Association of Computer and Information Science/Engineering Departments at Minority Institutions (ADMI) in Virginia Beach, Virginia. It was also awarded 2nd place in the computer science department at Spelman College’s Research Day in Atlanta, Georgia. I am continuing this research throughout my undergraduate career under the direction of Dr. Yolanda Rankin and Dr. Jakita Thomas. My goal for this project is to publish a research paper as an undergraduate student.

In summer of 2013 I accepted to take part in a research experience at Elizabeth City State University in Elizabeth City, North Carolina under the instruction of Dr. Linda Hayden. During this experience I was able to take part in two different research projects. The first project was entitled “Analyzing Factors that Influence Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda) at Elizabeth City State University”; my mentor was Dr. Barrett Rock. This project allowed me step out of my computer science discipline, to gain experience in subjects such as dendroclimatology and dendrochronology. Tree cores were extracted from loblolly pines across the campus of Elizabeth City State University and the correlation of diameter at base height (DBH) and tree age was compared. Once the cores were collected, the estimated age was calculated and the overall health condition of the trees was determined, by analyzing the growth rings of each core. Variable contributions (e.g., mulch, vines) were determined see if there was a positive or negative growth. The second research project at Elizabeth City State University was entitled “Developing a Remote Sensing and Cloud Computing Curriculum for the Association of Computer/Information Sciences and Engineering Departments at Minority Institutions (ADMI)”, mentored by Jerome Mitchell of Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. This project discussed a curriculum for coupling two diverse research areas, cloud computing and remote sensing and provided customized virtual appliances as hands-on assessments. The solution acquired information about cloud computing and remote sensing in order to develop five 15-20 minute self-contained modules. Also, a Message Passing Interface (MPI) and Hadoop virtual appliance was developed, so students could apply theoretical concepts gained from the curriculum. Understanding the challenges recognized by minority serving institutions in adapting from a teaching-learning environment to an online environment will also be explored.

I have grown to love research and computer science more by conducting undergraduate research. The most fascinating thing about Undergraduate research and computer science is I knowing that I can develop new ways people use technology, if it is for home, elderly, educational, or even social use. Participating in these Research Experiences for Undergraduates is preparing me to become a Doctor of Computer Science and having the ability to change something small into something magnificent.