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CSSE Trailblazer: Lauren Niesz

Photo of Lauren NieszMy name is Lauren Niesz and I am a current graduate student of Information Systems (Technical Track). I want to share with you what my journey has been like in this program. My undergraduate degree was actually in English—totally unrelated to Information Systems. I have a degree in not only a different major, but in a completely different school of thought. However, being at Monmouth University for both my undergraduate degree and now my graduate degree has truly been the best decision of my life.

It was because of the smaller class sizes and more personal experiences that I was afforded such incredible opportunities all along at Monmouth. In an undergraduate degree, all students are required to take an Information Technology (IT) course; I was lucky enough to have had a professor who noticed my potential in the tech field. It was because of the relationship that we built during my undergrad that I took on the IT minor. If I hadn’t met this professor, worked for her, and taken that minor, I would’ve never had the confidence to take on this graduate degree.

This personalized learning experience and interest in student wellbeing did not change in the Computer Science and Software Engineering (CSSE) Department when I started my graduate degree immediately after graduating with my humanities bachelor’s degree.

I said I was confident starting the program and I wasn’t lying; however, confidence undoubtedly waivers when you enter a field you have no experience in. Meltdowns and second-guessing will ensue and feel consuming at times, but, at Monmouth, the professors and student peers, are the absolute best support. I took a required Data Structures and Algorithms course over the summer and cried almost every day because I was having a very hard time understanding the abstraction and programming and was on the verge of failing. My peer, Lulu, a Chinese exchange student, took me under her wing and I went to tutoring with her every week. I also went to the professor who assured me he knew I was trying my best and he was proud of me. Taking this course was one of the hardest things I endured in my studies…but, I passed! There is literally help at every step of the way at Monmouth, and, specifically, in the CSSE Department.

At Monmouth, seldom will you ever run into a student or professor who isn’t willing to help. There is even a Student Cyber Lounge in the heart of CSSE, Howard Hall, where students not only hang out and relax, but also take that space and utilize it for learning and collaboration. In this area, you’ll always find other students to ask questions and engage in healthy discussion.

Another area of student life as a student in the CSSE Department is the IEEE Club. I currently serve as the Secretary for the club and have met some lifelong friends being a part of it. We offer experiences such as conference attendance, tech talks from industry folks, and our annual kickball game against the Math Department to name a few. And, if you’re looking for a meeting of great minds for philanthropic type events, we have the Upsilon Pi Epsilon (UPE) Chapter, which is the computing honor society. I currently serve as the Treasurer of our UPE Chapter and I can attest that it’s a great chapter to be accepted into and to get involved with.

At Monmouth, you are not a number or a statistic. Monmouth cares about your future. The CSSE Department wants to see its students succeed. Without this incessant will for success instilled in each professor and each peer, I wouldn’t be in the position I am.

What position is that, you ask? I was recommended to apply for a scholarship through Anita for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing by the same professor who encouraged me to enter this graduate program all together. I was granted the scholarship and, at this conference, the largest conference for women in computing in the world, I accepted an offer to work for Comcast/NBC/Universal in their Philadelphia Headquarters as a testing engineer in June, following my graduation.

It’s challenging to come from an unrelated background, but anything really is possible with the right people in your court and that is what I was fortunate enough to be afforded during my time at Monmouth University in the CSSE Department.