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Computer Science Fellowship Opens Doors

Recipients reflect on what the support means to their futures

Story Series
News Feature

Bridgewater State University’s new graduate computer science fellowship will soon make a difference for the technology industry. Already, it’s changing lives on campus.  

The U.S. Department of Education awarded the College of Graduate Studies up to $450,000 over three years to prepare students to fill in-demand computer science jobs, particularly around cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

The fellowships cover tuition, a living stipend, and other expenses, allowing fellows to focus full time on their studies.

Here are the stories of the first three fellows:

Opening doors once locked

Kevin Fung, ’18, G’21, would not be a BSU graduate student without the fellowship.

After completing his undergraduate computer science degree, Fung sought to enter the workforce to help his family, which was facing hard financial times. While on campus to pick up a transcript, Dr. Michael Black, an associate professor of computer science, told him about the fellowship.

“I am really grateful for the fellowship,” Fung said. “It lifts a huge burden off my family. I would not have imagined going for a master’s degree without it.”

The fellows help professors teach undergraduate classes, a rewarding experience that has Fung thinking about one day working in academia.

No matter where his career leads, an advanced degree will qualify him for more jobs. Those include positions in artificial intelligence, a field he sees as the wave of the future.

“This allows me to pursue those opportunities now,” he said. “It opens more doors.”

A computer science communicator

Communication studies and computer science may feel like disparate subjects, but Erica Travers, ’18, G’20, sees a connection between her undergraduate and graduate fields. After all, someone needs to explain programming in ways the public understands.

“I feel like this makes me more marketable because I can communicate things more effectively,” she said.

Travers took introductory computer science classes at the end of her undergraduate education, loved them, and decided to continue as a graduate student. She hopes to work in software engineering, but is letting her coursework guide her aspirations.

“With the amount of hours I was putting in at my part-time job as well as here, I wasn’t able to balance everything too well,” she said of life before the fellowship. “This eased a burden.”

From beaker to keyboard

Joe Matta, ’13, G’20, spent his undergraduate years as a chemistry major before discovering the field wasn’t for him.

He returned to BSU, without coding experience, to dabble in computer science. The longtime video game aficionado discovered he enjoyed the subject.

Now, he’s learning the technology behind video games and hasn’t left his chemistry lessons completely behind. After all, the scientific way of thinking is just as applicable when working with electronics.

Matta also praised the fellowship for easing financial challenges.

“I really didn’t know how I was going to pay for my education,” he said. “It probably would have come down to student loans again.”

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