Maddie Zug ’19

Maddie Zug

I first fell in love with computer science playing with Lego robots. I loved how programming felt like a puzzle and I enjoyed the problem solving and creativity it took to craft code. I decided to major in computer science at Pomona because I wanted a deeper look at the theories behind the technology we use every day. I also wanted to keep getting my hands dirty with code and exploring how technology is made.

Since deciding to major I've realized one of my favorite things about studying computer science at a liberal arts college like Pomona is the exposure we get to interdisciplinary applications of technology. My friends in the major are using their computer science backgrounds to explore interests in everything from theater, to linguistics, to politics.

Overall I've had a fantastic experience in the computer science department. I have become a more perseverant problem solver and gained concrete, valuable skills I can bring to my future work. I've also practiced breaking down complex concepts and explaining them clearly to other people. I've learned so much, both from my professors and from fellow students. I'm so glad I chose to be a part of this supportive community of problem solvers!

Wentao Guo ’19

Wentao Guo ’19

I struggled to answer this question for my first couple years at Pomona. What I cared about was the impact of technologies on how people live, and I struggled to see how studying computer science helped me understand that better. One day, I found direction after stumbling upon a series of data ethics talks on campus. Drawn by the keynote talk on racially biased algorithms, I learned so much that I ended up staying for the day, and I left deep in conversation with a friend who had also stayed. I began to see how computer science could be used as a set of tools to help us make sense of the increasingly pervasive role of computers, data, and algorithms in our lives.

This brief story reveals a lot of what I like about studying computer science at Pomona. I’m surrounded by people committed to thinking critically about the social, ethical, and legal issues in technology. There’s always someone to talk to about the issues on my mind—and often it’s the people with different majors, from different backgrounds, who have the greatest insights. And the things I’ve learned have changed how I see the world.

A year ago, some other students and I started a student organization, Tech for Good, with the goals of sparking conversations about technology and using our skills in technology to support non-profits in helping people. Tech for Good has become a community of friends who push me to learn more, think more, and do more. This is the sort of community you can find and make, studying computer science at the Claremont Colleges: people with a passion for using what they learn about technology to have important conversations and make the world a better place.

Sean MacPherson ’21

Sean MacPherson ’21

During my first three years of high school, I stayed far away from computer science classes. I thought of computer science [majors] as geniuses staring at small computer screens coding the inner workings of magical items like my laptop. I told myself that computer science wasn’t for me.

In my senior year of high school, I conjured up an urge to start learning about web development. I built my first project, a basic website that found soccer fields nearby, and became drawn to computer science by the prospects of being able to create a product that aligned with my interests in a short of amount of time. I learned as I went, and building the website proved to be such a rewarding experience that I was intrigued enough to give computer science a solid chance.

After taking an intro class during my first semester of college, I was instantly hooked. I learned that computer science was so much more than my younger high school self thought it was. I found it was less about having a natural knack for the subject and more about committing myself to constant learning.

Since transferring to Pomona my sophomore year, I have discovered an amazing community of professors and students to share my passion for the subject with. I have met driven, excited Pomona CS majors applying computer science to their own unique areas of interest. Linguistics, theatre, cognitive science...name a major and it’s highly probable that a Pomona student is finding a way to apply computer science to it. I’ve also had the opportunity to work on a variety of rewarding projects outside of the classroom, such as helping to organize the 5C Hackathon and working with a professor on training models to capture the underlying topics in research papers. My time thus far as a computer science major has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my college career and I feel like I have just scratched the surface. I am so excited by where it will take me.