With three classes of SA graduates out in the world — very soon to be four! — we are always excited to see what our alums are achieving and contributing in their college communities. Recently, Loretta Tuider (HSLA ‘20, Columbia University ‘24) wrote to us with an inspirational update: She’s been accepted into a selective summer program at Columbia University, where she is a rising sophomore. We caught up with Loretta to hear more about the opportunity and how she’s adjusted to college.
By Loretta Tuider (HSLA ‘20, Columbia University ‘24)
This summer, I’ve been accepted into Columbia Engineering’s Education Experience for Undergraduates (EEU) program, which means I get to spend six weeks working alongside a professor teaching computer science to high school students. I’m so excited about the opportunity to mentor other students, and learn more about my own interests in the process.
In high school at Success Academy, I was in the honors STEM program, so I took mechanical and electrical engineering. Through those classes I started to learn what engineering was all about — and I loved it. I’ve always been geared toward STEM, but I especially liked how engineering involves math and even more teamwork and collaboration than other STEM fields. When I was applying to college, I focused on getting into an engineering school, and was so excited by my acceptance into Columbia’s. When I started at Columbia I felt pretty prepared; in the fall I took Intro to Electrical Engineering, and it was so nice to have a background in the subject from SA.
When I learned about the EEU program, I knew I wanted to do something that connected to my coursework over the summer, rather than a regular job. I thought “Why not?” and decided to apply. Plus, I did a program called Columbia Edge through SA HSLA, which gives high schoolers the chance to take courses at Columbia, so I felt qualified and knew I’d been in the shoes of the students I’d be mentoring.
Getting accepted into the EEU program is one of my first big achievements in college, and I think it will open additional doors for me. I’m applying to be a teacher’s assistant in computer science in the fall, and the experience I gain from the EEU will be really valuable. My TAs have been so helpful, especially in computer science classes. I want to be able to help other students think critically through their work like my TAs have helped me. I started thinking about becoming a TA as I became more passionate about computer science, and this program will be the perfect preparation.
As for my future, I’m taking it one semester at a time. Based on how this experience goes this summer, I think I want to do an internship with one of the big tech companies. I feel like that’s something I’m already building toward within the scope of my education, and potentially landing that kind of internship would be a great start for a potential job offer.
For any students considering computer science or engineering, my advice would be to form a good relationship with your TAs and don’t procrastinate. You really can’t get away with starting projects last minute, and having someone to talk to or advise you is useful. And the more work you do, the more you get used to it. Computer science in particular is like learning a whole new language, but after a few projects things just started clicking in my head and I get a real sense of accomplishment when I do well on an assignment now.