Brown University's Department of Computer Science (Brown CS) has just announced that it will recognize five graduating seniors for their achievements at Commencement in May. Samuel Ainsworth, Allison Hamburger, Sharon Lo, Eli Rosenthal, and Sarah Sachs will each receive the Senior Prize in Computer Science for their academic work as well as their service to Brown CS.
"These are our top students," says Associate Professor (Research) and Vice Chair Tom Doeppner. "As a group, they've done superior work, but we were also very impressed with how generously they were able to give back to the department and their fellow students."
"I have loved TAing almost every semester in this department to create an inclusive and enjoyable space for all students," says Sarah. "Moreover, my time spent as a WiCS coordinator has deepened my investment in this community. Collaborating with CS professors for independent research and my honor's thesis has also enhanced my appreciation of our wonderful faculty and the academic process."
Allison shares a similar experience, and the hope that others will continue her recent work with inclusivity: "My involvement in the department as a WiCS coordinator and a Student Advocate for Diversity and Inclusion has given me an opportunity to think critically about what makes a community supportive. I've tried to contribute to making the department a more inclusive space, and I hope such efforts only expand from here."
"I came into Brown never expecting I’d be concentrating in computer science," says Sharon. "Computer science was really foreign to me, and I naively thought that there were two distinct sets of people: those that could code, and those that couldn’t. I was in the latter.
In the spring of freshmen year, I stumbled upon one of the posters for 'It’s never too late to start CS' events with Beyoncé coding on the front. I say I ended up going to that event to start CS (but probably moreso because I wanted to be like Beyoncé). That event completely changed it for me — that was my first glimpse of the atmosphere of the Brown CS Dept; it was welcoming, friendly, and I left convinced that this was something I wanted to at least try.
Fast-forward to being a senior and now as a computer science concentrator and heading to my tech job, I have no doubt that (as cheesy as it sounds), Brown’s CS Dept (more like family) changed my life because this just wouldn’t be the path I’d be heading down if it wasn’t for this department. I see friends at other schools fall into that trap of 'I can’t program,' and I’m so, so thankful that I’m surrounded by people everyday that uplift me and refuse to let me doubt myself. I can count numerous instances where my 'I can’t do it' was met with a 'Sharon, you totally can.'
I’m so bummed to be leaving such a wonderful place with amazing people. If my next steps in life are even close to what I got here, I’d consider myself lucky."