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December 13, 2016
I had to do it somehow.
As a humanities major, and someone who has always been less-than-stellar at any school subject dealing strictly with logic, algorithms, and formulas, (except AP Bio, which was awesome), I must confess that not a single iota of my being wanted to take even one math course in my college career. I always intended to abandon math at the doorstep of Indian River High School, never to look back again—and then kick some dust into its eyes on the way out.
But if in order to graduate, I had to complete the University of Richmond’s Symbolic Reasoning general education requirement, which meant I had to buckle down and take some kind of mathematical class. As I’m wont to do, I chose to do things the hardest way possible: Instead of taking Calculus or some other introductory-level math course, I opted to take CMSC 150: Introduction to Computing.
CMSC 150 introduces a student to computer programming with the programming language Java. Learning a programming language is, in many senses I think,
I can say—and with strong conviction, I might add—that CMSC 150 was the hardest class I’ve ever taken, period. It was fast-paced, with brand-new concepts introduced in every single class. I often felt overwhelmed by the content, and I’d spend hours poring over the material and still close the textbook as lost as I had been before. Every week, I’d spend untold hours trying to work through programming assignments, and even when I worked with a partner they’d often take more than 6 hours to complete. I thought I would have had a much better time—to focus on classes that had more to do with the career path I want to pursue, to hang out with friends, to pursue hobbies—if I didn’t have to worry so much about my comp sci grade. The class made me feel stressed and overworked.
But it wasn’t all bad. When I actually understood what was going on, I found programming to be quite the fascinating subject. It’s simply staggering to think of all the work that goes into creating things I use all the time in my daily life, like video games and Google. Like I’m sure everyone in my class did, I felt a surge of victory whenever I got my program to simulate something cool, like a bouncing ball. I also had a good bit of fun writing my weekly journal assignments for the class. Yep, we had to make a blog. I’ll link mine at the end of this post.
Plus, there were always people willing to assist me when I didn’t understand a concept. UR’s got its own computer science tutor, and my fellow classmates were also a great resource. The professor, Dr. Jory Denny, was especially helpful. Whenever I went to his office hours, he’d walk me through the algorithmic problems on his whiteboard, step by step by step. I always left his office with an augmented understanding of the topic. We could even ask him questions online via Piazza, and he’d answer within in ten minutes.
Well, now it’s all over and I’ve received my final grade for the class. The general education requirement is fulfilled. Am I glad to have taken this class? Not really, no. But I did learn something that’ll stick with me: No matter how hard you try, the most you can ever do is your best. All you can really do is put in the work to make sure your best work really is your best. That’s my takeaway, anyway.
—Hunter, Class of 2019
Here’s my CMSC 150 blog: Code Monkey Chronicles (I'm still a little bit proud of that title.)
And yes, it has occurred to me that this is an About Me and I've neglected to tell you much about me. So I'm from Chesapeake, Virginia, a place just south of Norfolk that's large enough to be a county but isn't because reasons. There's not much to do in Chesapeake other than going for a dip in the Great Dismal Swamp (ill-advised) or head to a neigboring town to hit the beach, and I think that's part of the reason I spent most of my earlier childhood holed up in my room reading books or playing Playstation.
I branched out in my high school years, though, and I've developed affinites for genealogy, running, film, and photography. I am not a man of many talents, though among them include the remarkable power to turn my thumb all the way backwards, the ablility to tell you almost everything you'd ever want to know about the Star Wars Expanded Universe (which unfortunately has been declared non-canon, thanks to J.J. Abrams), and the astonishing skill to cook Minute Rice in 58 seconds. My playlist includes mostly oldies, and my favorite movies all came out before I was born. So you might say I'm a bit of a hipster. I've even got my own snazzy red Polaroid camera, which is practically a license to hipster in this day and age, right?
So, yeah, that's me. In conclusion, read on! Hope you enjoy my blog posts!
Why UR?I'm not a very decisive person. During my senior year of high school, I envied the kids who were certain straight from the get-go where they wanted to go to college. I had applied to several great schools that I thought could offer me a great education, but I had trouble picking which one was the best fit for me. I constantly held debates against myself, weighing the pros and the cons of each school in my head and occasionally and occasionally audibly voicing my concerns a la Gollum: "How about this one?" "No, no, too big. And too far away. Going back and forth to home could prove to be a real bummer." "Good point, but look at their alumni network! They could hook you up with a job fresh out of graduation!" "Ah, true, but check out these student reviews online. You really want to go to a place with this reputation?" "Do you believe everything you read in those reviews?" "Of course I do. They can't put anything on the internet that isn't true." And so on and so on. I still hadn't made a decision by mid-April, so the jury was still out on where I was going just two weeks before the deadline. Pressure from my parents and peers to choose just kept piling on heavier and heavier. Around this time I went to a Richmond Scholars visit, which afforded prospective students who'd been offered scholarships from the University the chance to get a glimpse of life as a student here. The visit was really what sealed the deal for me. The beautiful campus was a joy to explore even in the surprisingly sweltering spring heat. I had the opportunity to sit in on a class, which wasn't very big. Richmond's small class sizes allow for intimate discussions as opposed to drawling lectures and make it rather easy to develop close relationships with professors. I've found that most of them encourage you to meet with them in their spare time, something that might be more difficult to do at a larger institution. While at the Scholars visit, I talked with my host for hours. He gave me a bare bones, down-to-earth explanation of what he thought of Richmond. And I know it's a total cliche, but there's one thing he told me that I really think rings true here at Richmond and life in general: It can be a great and rewarding experience, but only if you put in the effort to make it one. Bottom line, I think Richmond gives students the resources needed to make their college years more than worthwhile, moreso than any other school I checked out. We've got top-notch academics to satisfy any hungry mind, we've got a plethora of extracurriculars to enjoy, tons of chances to broaden our horizons (literally and figuratively), and of course, we've got the chow at D-Hall. All that's really what made me want to spend the next four years of my life here.