MCLA

Computer Whiz

02/06/2013

He's been an MCLA student for less than a year, but already Patrick Kelly '16 of Milton, Mass., has distinguished himself as a teaching assistant and tutor for other computer science majors, according to Dr. Mike Dalton, chair of the College's computer science department.

In addition, as a supplemental instruction leader, he's working to advance the role of computer science as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) discipline, and he's helping other students to discover that computer science isn't as daunting as they might think.

"I was interested in programming when I was little, but thought it would be too hard. It wasn't until my last year of high school that I really got into it," Kelly explained.

According to Kelly, although he tutored others students in various subjects when he was in high school, he has "no real technical background to speak of."

That all changed after he took a course in "Java II" from Dalton over the summer, before he began his freshman year at MCLA.  Dalton saw Kelly's potential, and asked him to help out with his "Java I" class during the fall semester.

Also a supplemental instructor through MCLA's Center for Student Success and Engagement (CSSE), Kelly sits in on class, holds weekly sessions where students can come for help or clarification on subject matter, and offers guidance to the freshmen he assists.

While Kelly's dream job for now would be to work for Activision Blizzard, as a result of his experiences of helping others to learn, he is thinking about a career in higher education. He is considering going to graduate school to earn a master's degree and a Ph.D. - not only in computer science, but philosophy, too, which he also enjoys.

At MCLA, "All of the professors are great and are there when you need them to be. The discussions in class are generally pretty good and informative," he said. "The professors are really awesome and will help you whenever you need it, and very helpful if you have no idea what you are doing in some of the classes."

It was MCLA's professors who "sold" Kelly on the College.

"I talked with all the professors at all the other colleges and universities I applied to and found MCLA professors more approachable and more helpful than most," he explained. "One of the best parts of being an MCLA student is I have the opportunity to take challenging courses, and the staff want to help me succeed."

Being a teaching assistant and a tutor is important to Kelly. "I like helping students out on their assignments," he said. What's more, his work in these positions last fall "was a good review of the concepts I hadn't practiced since earlier that year."

When he's not in the classroom, Kelly can be found hanging out in Murdock Hall's room 120, because everything he needs to do his homework is there.

"Also, other computer science majors are in and out all day, so if I ever need help with an assignment, I can get it," he explained. "My favorite thing to do is to get into a discussion with someone about either something I learned in class or something from a reading."