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Elijah Smith

My name is Eli and I’m a computer science major with a minor in mathematics graduating in May of 2023. I’m an out of state student from ~30 minutes outside of Philadelphia, PA and, before that, San Antonio, Texas. Some of the organizations I’m involved with inside of UCF are Knight Hacks, a software-development-focused club, the Wearable Engineering and Assistive Robotics Lab, much more easily referenced as the WEAR Lab, and the badminton club, just to have some fun. Outside of school, I enjoy strategy board/card/video games, playing racket sports (mostly tennis and badminton, but definitely not racquetball because it’s too scary), and working on cool programming projects.

So far, my favorite class at UCF has been Computer Science 1 with Dr. Charles Hughes. This class is the single most critical course for any student interested in CS because every other course in the CS track relies on a fundamental understanding of the concepts you learn about in CS1. Despite being the second course in the CS track, it’s easily the most challenging course until the upper-level classes you take around senior year. Dr. Hughes did an excellent job explaining and covering the large amount of material and I really enjoyed his interesting assignments, even if they were pretty challenging at times.

I’m really excited to be a STEM ambassador for this next school year. I’ve been given many opportunities and exposures to STEM concepts as early as elementary school that let me explore my interests and discover my enthusiasm for all things programming. I’m eager for the opportunity to make an impact on young students the same way my teachers, parents, and mentors impacted my interests and aspirations.

The most important thing I’ve learned for succeeding as a STEM major is the importance of confidence in yourself, something I’ve struggled with at times. Especially in STEM subjects where there are so many things to learn and try, it’s a simple fact there’s always someone that has done more and knows more than you. It’s very easy to have imposter syndrome and feel like you don’t belong because you’re not at the same level as someone else. Everyone comes from a different background, has had different experiences, and will go on to do different things. Be your own person, be confident in your abilities, and be proud of what you’ve accomplished. Find what makes you happy and pursue your own dreams, not someone else’s.