Before settling on computer science at NYIT, student Randall O’Shea had pursued five other majors—and even received degrees in some of them. First, while he was serving as an active member of the United States Air Force, he considered becoming a member of law enforcement or security, and he earned his A.A.S. degree in Criminal Justice from the Community College of the Air Force. Then, he switched his focus to construction trades and technology, and received an associate’s degree in that field as well. After completing a portion of studies, he changed to property management, then architecture, and eventually web design/development.
It was only after exploring all these options that he rediscovered his love for computer science. “I remembered how in the third grade, I was so excited to be able to stay after school and help the computer teacher shut down the computer lab,” O’Shea recalled. “All I got to do was put paper in the printer and put dust covers on the computers, but that was what got me interested in technology.”
After he left acting duty and settled on a major, he had to choose a school. Fortunately, NYIT ended up being exactly what he was looking for.
“First, I thought to myself, if I am completing a degree in computer science, what better place than an institute of technology?” said O’Shea. “The second thing I looked at was the location of the school and what it had to offer. I am a veteran and using the Post 9-11 G.I. Bill, and NYIT’s Manhattan campus provided me the second highest housing allowance in the country.” The choice was obvious, and he enrolled in classes in the spring of 2016.
Now that he has settled in, O’Shea feels as though he has found a home at NYIT and is eager to give back to the school that welcomed him so openly. Along with his studies, he invests his time working with members of the NYIT community and has formed a veteran’s organization to help the community he feels personally connected to.
“I was hired as a student worker to help form an organization (comprising mostly veteran students) in order to provide resources and support to NYIT veteran students,” he said. NYIT currently recognizes the existing Student Veterans of America (SVA) group as a student club, but he and others are working on making it an official university chapter of the SVA. O’Shea believes that the designation will help inspire more veterans to choose to attend NYIT. “The school will benefit greatly from that,” he said.
When he isn’t working on the chapter, you can find O’Shea immersed in his computer science classes. Although he still considers himself a novice when it comes to his major, he is willing to accept the challenge. He credits his NYIT professors with allowing him to push his boundaries and explore his major in a beneficial way. “Most of my computer science courses are taught by people who not only teach, but also actively work in the field. They are teaching based on current trends and technology being used, and not just reading theory out of a textbook written 15-20 years ago with irrelevant information.”
As he looks to the future, O’Shea says he is anxious to receive his degree in computer science. It is also evident, however, that he will not feel completely satisfied with his academic career until he can make a difference in the lives of fellow student veterans.