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S U M M E R 2 0 1 1
says Fiore, who serves as a secondary advisor.
“They are all very funny, bright, interesting, and
an overall pleasure to teach. Just being a fresh-
man is a huge transition. All freshman students
come from the culture of their family to the
culture of Marist, and that’s an even bigger
change for more diverse students.”
The relationship she has with her students
is not just about teaching. She is also a mentor,
guide, and friend. The students share anecdotes
about their days, both funny and serious, and
Fiore and the class provide feedback. Gabriela
Rosales of Hawthorne, Calif., sits in the back
and nonchalantly plays with the hair of Stuti
Bhatt of South Yarmouth, Mass. Morgan
MacHuta of Honolulu responds to a question
about values. Classmate Mena excitedly agrees
with her. “That’s exactly what I wanted to say,
but you said it perfectly.”
In computer science felds, women are a
minority, according to Coleman, and the three
women within this scholarship cohort are the
most he’s had in his introductory program-
ming course at Marist
MacHuta admits she
does think about the gender gap. “If anything,
it’s more of a motivator,” she says. “It’s some-
thing that encourages me to try harder and
prove myself to be just as competent and able.”
MacHuta must also confront the vast
cultural differences between her native
Hawaii and New York. Luckily, Wong is also
from Honolulu, and the two can laugh about
common misconceptions about their home
According to Corinne Schell ’83, direc-
tor of external recruitment and outreach, it
is not uncommon for students who hail from
more remote locations to experience an easier
transition to college than some students who
come from neighboring states. The latter
group, Schell says, does not always expect the
changes that come with the shift. Schell, who
recruited eventual NSF scholarship recipients
in Hawaii and California, says that the size of
the school and the support services available
play a vital role in securing the confdence of
families, which is essential in the adjustment
of students from distant hometowns. This
confdence is not gained only during recruit-
ment trips and campus tours; it is nurtured
throughout students’ time at the College. “Other
administrators and I have maintained contact
with families of these students,” Schell says.
The palpable fellowship among the schol-
ars can be traced back to the spring of 2010,
many months before Move-In Day, when each
of the scholarship fnalists visited Marist. Each
worked fervidly to impress professors and
college offcials by asking intelligent questions
and contributing to conversations. As they sat
in the Cabaret, the parents and students waited
anxiously for announcement of the scholar-
ship winners.
When the announcement came, each of the
fnalists experienced different emotions. All
of the emotions, however, were positive. “My
mom was in tears,” remembers Mark Logan
of Bradenton, Fla. “It was the most relieving
feeling in the world,” says Mena. “Shocking,”
recalls Julio Cabrera of Miami, Fla. Bonded
by the experience, a foundation for friendship
was built.
o provide the scholarships, Marist frst
had to secure funding from the NSF.
Coleman was instrumental in preparing the
grant application. “We really had to explain
in a compelling way why we believe we are
suited to fulfll the requirements of the grant,”
says Coleman. “We use video game develop-
ment and simulations as a means to introduce
students to computing, as opposed to the more
traditional way, which is more business- or
enterprise-oriented computing.” Aside from
this fresh strategy for introductory comput-
ing, the proposal also included partnerships
with companies such as IBM, Verizon, Aetna,
Pepsi, and other industry mentors. Students
beneft from these partnerships by receiving
highly sought internships. “These projects and
internship opportunities are a proven path to
employment, with many of our students receiv-
ing top offers well before they graduate,” says
Roger Norton, dean of the School of Computer
Science and Mathematics. After Marist was
awarded the grant in 2008, Coleman spent
time in 2009 traveling to recruit students and
designing the program.
The group’s “similar diversity” is perfectly
represented by their unique interests within
and outside the feld of computer science. Like
Arama, Cabrera also dreams of one day start-
ing his own business. He became interested in
computer programming upon learning about
hacking and computer security in high school.
He admits he does miss home at times, but
takes solace in the fact that by receiving his
education he’s doing the right thing for his
family, who hope to move out of Florida one
The Self-Management class, taught by Academic
Learning Center Director Jane Fiore, exposes
students to a practical self-management model
that enables them to increase academic and
personal achievement in a college environment.
day. “I miss them, but if I go back to Miami
I cannot provide a future for my family,” he
says. “I know I’m doing the right thing, and
that makes me feel comfortable.”
Many of the students are interested in
studying abroad. MacHuta hopes to combine
her skills in computer science with her affn-
ity for Japanese culture and language. Garrett
Sutcliffe of Newburgh, N.Y., and Wong are
interested in video game development
is thinking about postgraduate study in phys-
ics, and De’Ron Billups of Los Angeles, Calif.,
is taking up computer hardware. Many are
looking into the fve-year master’s programs
available within the School of Computer
Science. Others are considering obtaining a
master’s in business administration.
These interests complement each other
well and will do so to a larger extent when
students begin classes in Marist’s new Hancock
Center in the fall of 2011. Home to the School of
Computer Science and Mathematics, the center
also will provide a collaborative workspace for
joint projects as well as laboratories offering
access to advanced IBM server technologies and
Cisco networking systems. As Fiore looks out
the second-foor window of Dyson to admire a
beautiful sunset over the Hudson, the students
are transfxed by the Hancock Center and all
the possibilities it will unveil.
Each student recognizes that opportunities
are worthless unless he or she can capitalize
on them. Arama even suffers some guilt over
the chances afforded to him. “Yes I do have
some guilt because I feel like there were some
kids back home who, if they were ever given a
chance to come to America, would excel really
well in whatever they do.” Billups emphasizes
the fact that just because he’s been awarded a
scholarship, it doesn’t mean he has no more
to accomplish. “It’s harder to keep it than it is
to get it,” he says. The notion refects another
of Gates’s rules: “The world will expect you
to accomplish something before you feel good
about yourself.”