Quiet-spoken, thoughtful and self-possessed, second-year student Dana Smith doesn’t give the impression of a young woman in a hurry. But as one of seven recipients of an “Out in Two” scholarship, she is already on a fast track to academic and professional success.
The program is designed to help high-potential students complete their studies and graduate in two consecutive years, providing them with tuition assistance, academic and financial aid advisement.
Successful in class, active outside
“Out in Two has helped me become much more well-rounded,” says Smith, a Computer Network Technology major who has had no difficulty meeting the program’s 3.0 GPA requirement.
Apart from the program’s emphasis on academic excellence, she adds, “we’re encouraged to engage in community activities.” Among other involvements, Smith has helped out at the Food Bank of New York and volunteered at BMCC’s Freshman Assembly.
Motivated by a desire to give back, Smith also volunteers in Each One Reach One, which pairs academically challenged students with peer mentors. “I meet with my mentee every week to talk to her about her schoolwork as well as other aspects of her life,” she says.
While Smith’s primary goal is to help the student achieve her academic goals, “she’s extremely self-motivated, and really needs just a boost from me,” she says. “She’ll ask, ‘Dana, what’s a good book for me to read?’ or ‘Can you show me the best way to read a textbook?’ She makes it easy for me—but it’s also enormously rewarding.”
“An intuitive learner”
Between her academic pursuits and volunteer commitments, it’s been a busy and fulfilling year for Smith. Accepted into C-STEP (Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program), she did database implementation work on an Android phone app development project as part of her honors project with Prof. Jose Vargas, of the Computer Information Systems Department.
And, with support from LSAMP (Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program), she has also worked with Prof. Ching-Song D. Wei on a research project aimed at enabling electronic exchange of patient medical records.
Presenting research in Puerto Rico
This past March, Smith was one of eight CUNY students—and the only one from BMCC—selected to present her findings at a conference at the University of Puerto Rico.
“Dana has learned a lot while making key contributions to the project,” says Wei. Putting in 10-to-20 hours a week, “she has managed her time exceptionally well, met every deadline and delivered consistently high quality work.”
Over the past year, Smith has proven herself “fast and intuitive learner with a talent for working independently and making productive use of my advice and comments.”
Working with Wei has also helped Smith define her professional aspirations with greater clarity.
“I’ve always loved computers, but I never knew which area I ultimately wanted to study,” she says. “Working with Dr. Wei has helped me realize that my real passion is computer science and research.” After graduating from BMCC next June, she looks forward to pursuing Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral degrees in that field.
“Thanks to this program and to Dr. Wei,” Smith says, “I was able to experience that field first hand.”