SICE celebrated its Class of 2019 at the IU Auditorium.
Students from as far away as China or India—or as close as Bloomington—strolled across the stage, each taking the final steps of their journey to a degree from the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering.
Awaiting them was Dean Raj Acharya, who smiled and shook each student’s hand to congratulate them on their accomplishment and welcome them to the SICE alumni family, now 21,000 strong. More than 1,000 SICE students were awarded their degrees during graduation weekend, and SICE celebrated their efforts in a pair of Student Recognition Ceremonies held for the first time in school history at the IU Auditorium.
“I know our School is graduating talented, hard-working, and innovative champions of the Artificial Intelligence Revolution,” Acharya told graduates. “I can be sure because I know you have received an outstanding education. You are graduating from a School that taught you multiple aspects of computing and exposed you to an interdisciplinary education. You hold the key to tomorrow. Use it wisely.”
SICE conferred bachelor’s degrees in computer science and informatics, as well as master’s degrees in computer science, informatics, data science, human-computer interaction, information science, library science, and secure computing. For the first time in school history, master’s degrees were awarded in intelligent systems engineering. Ph.D.s in computer science, informatics, and information science also were awarded.
Ugochukwu Orizu, who graduated with a B.S. in Informatics, echoed the feelings of a lot of graduates.
“I’m overwhelmed,” said Orizu, who is moving on to graduate studies at IU. “I never thought this day would come, and everything I’ve done over the past four years feels summed up in this one day. I’m ecstatic, but I’m also sad it’s over. I don’t know whether to smile or frown. I’m just feeling so many things.”
Sudhir Kulkarni, who earned his M.S. in Data Science while working as a president at Persistent Systems in California, said his classwork will allow him to stay on the cutting edge of technology.
“I started this program later in my life than others,” Kulkarni said. “The dean said artificial intelligence is the technology of tomorrow, and he’s right. I wanted to get a leg up and see how AI and machine learning can be used in my work life. I also wanted to see if I could keep up to date with the youngsters of today and make sure nobody was going to run circles around me. When you’re working, you have to have patience and be persistent, and my classes reinforced the importance of both of those traits.”
Tyler Citrin participated in the Accelerated Master’s in Computer Science program, which allows students to earn their B.S. and M.S. in computer science in just five years. He arrived in Bloomington with a different plan, and he’s happy with the path he chose.
“I initially wanted to study business at IU,” said Citrin, who is headed to Microsoft. “I decided to change my major because I found my real fit here. I went for the accelerated program because I knew I wanted a little more school, but I felt the accelerated was the perfect fit for me as opposed to doing the two-year program. It feels great. I feel like I’ve learned a lot, and I definitely made the right decision.”
Paulette Koronkevich earned her B.S. in computer science with highest distinction (an overall grade point average 3.9 or above), and she’s proud of all she accomplished.
“I’m pretty shocked that I made it through,” said Koronkevich, who was honored during the ceremony for earning a spot in the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program in the field of formal methods, verification, and programming languages. “I remember the first semester, and I was thinking there was no way I could get a computer science degree. Now, I’m here. And I still feel like there was no way I could have done all I’ve accomplished, but I have. I never did anything with computers in high school, and I didn’t know what computer science was at all before starting. A lot of my classmates had experience in high school. I’m really grateful for the C211 Intro to Computer Science course that makes it an even ground for everybody starting out.”
Amy Doster, who earned her Master’s in Library Science, was still getting used to the idea of being finished with her classes.
“I turned in my last assignment at 11:58 p.m. last night,” Doster laughed. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I earned my undergraduate degree from IU, and I’ve been in school for a while. Going into the auditorium and seeing everyone in their robes, and seeing myself wearing one, brought it home that I’m done, and now I can go out into a wider world.”
Jinghua Yang earned her master’s degree in human-computer interaction, and she’s headed to Denver to start her career. She initially pursued engineering, but she instead fell in love with design.
“I’m proud of getting out of my comfort zone and trying different things,” Yang said. “I met a lot of cool people in this program. You have to be open and embrace the different possibilities in front of you to reach your full potential.”
For Gautam Matkar, who completed his M.S. in Data Science, the day was about not only making his own vision for his future come true.
“I always wanted to pursue a master’s, and doing it at IU was great,” Matkar said. “It has been a beautiful experience. I worked for seven years before entering the master’s program, and the courses map perfectly with what I was doing. It will create a stepping stone for my future. Plus, my father wanted me to earn a master’s, and even though he couldn’t make it here from India today, he has been dreaming of it for a long time. I know my father is very proud of me, and I couldn’t be more excited for where I’m going.”