May 4, 2022
Attending Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) has been a fulfilling experience for Bridget Screvane, set to graduate with an Associate in Science (A.S.) degree in Computer Science this June and named the College’s 57th Commencement Dean’s Award recipient.
“If I were a superhero, this would be my origin story,” she says, never having imagined she would be working in technology prior to attending BMCC. “I’m profoundly grateful for everything I’ve experienced at BMCC.”
Working full time in a textile company in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan — assisting with marketing, trade shows, photo shoots and archiving the collection — Screvane took five classes each semester and pulled off a 4.0 GPA, completing her Computer Science degree in two years.
During that time she was also an active member in BMCC’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter, and completed a Calculus II research project with Mathematics Professor Jorge A. Florez, funded by the National Science Foundation initiative Noyce Explorers, Scholars, Teachers. Now, Screvane, two other students and Professor Florez are co-authoring an article on the project that will document their work and which they are submitting to a peer-reviewed journal.
Screvane also took part in the BMCC Computer Programming Club as well as the Success and Innovation Lab led by Computer Science Professor Mohammad Azhar. “It used to be the Robotics Club, but it took a shift after COVID,” she says. “We met with a mix of software engineers, executives and coders from IBM and other companies, through Zoom, and worked on projects like the IBM Make-A-Thon Call for Code.”
Her unconventional path from fashion industry to computer science began when she attended the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) High School program. “I had learned a lot from my mom’s mom, the ‘Craft Queen.’ She taught me to sew, to crochet, and to love the arts; dancing and painting also,” Screvane says.
Straight out of high school, she started a company with friends making custom clothing and accessories; items such as handbags, hand-painted extensions and wigs. “We were selling in open markets around the City, and consignment shops,” she says. “Then I started working as a special effects make-up artist for TV shows like ‘The View’ and ‘Law & Order,’ as well as a few horror movies.”
Though things were going well, she says, at some point the fashion and design industry began to feel less satisfying.
“We ended up focused on selling whatever best-sellers are on trend; not always what I wanted to sell and not doing what I wanted to do — which was to innovate a trend, make it our own brand. It became hard to find the joy.”
Her sense of being on a meaningful career path returned, once her focus shifted at BMCC.
“I have a passion for neuroscience and psychology, and I want to apply those areas to become a machine-learning engineer,” she says. “I specifically would like to focus on creating artificial neural networks, mimicking the biological brain and using those constructed networks to create algorithmsfor intelligence systems. Computers can hold an immense amount of data and when analyzed by A.I. models can lead to profound and innovative discoveries.”
To many people, artificial intelligence, or “A.I.,” is the stuff of science fiction. Screvane explains that A.I. is in fact, an integral facet of everyday life, with benefits that haven’t even begun to be tapped.
“It’s transforming not just our day-to-day activities but also changing industries such as medical health systems in ways that will benefit a lot of people,” she says. “Patient care decisions and assessments will be able to be made by tapping into billions of data points to make connections. A human would need years to come up with the same correlations.”
Her passion for the field was not something she saw coming.
“I was in a math course that combined non-STEM statistics with high school algebra. I needed the remediation component because I had never been great with math, but I was excelling in this class because the professor was so great.”
That professor, Dr. Aradhana Kumari, suggested that Screvane look into data science, another aspect of computer science — and her sense of purpose was rekindled.
“I’ve noticed there is a kind of ebb and flow to my life,” says Screvane. “I feel fortunate to have met the right people at the right time, and that definitely happened at BMCC. Fashion transforms the world, and so does computer science. They both help people live the kind of lives they want.”
Students earning special internal and external recognition such as the Dean’s Award support BMCC Strategic Goals including Strategic Goal 6: Strengthen BMCC’s role in a thriving NYC and as a leading community college nationally.
- Computer Science 2022 graduate Bridget Screvane named 57th Commencement’s Dean’s Award recipient
- Screvane maintains 4.0 GPA while attending BMCC and working full time, all the while participating in research projects, clubs, PTK and more
- Having started her own fashion design business right out of high school, her new focus is becoming a machine-learning engineer building artificial neural networks for A.I. applications