February 16, 2016
Hard work is paying off for Samantha Miller ’16
Mathematics and Computer Science major Samantha Miller ’16 has already compiled an impressive résumé filled with prestigious honors and memorable experiences: recipient of a top scholarship awarded by Upsilon Pi Epsilon (UPE), intern alongside brilliant scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory, president of SJC’s chapter of UPE computer science honor society, to name a few. The Blue Point native’s most recent accomplishment was presenting at the 2015 IEEE MIT Undergraduate Research Technology Conference (URTC) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Samantha recently took some time to answer a few questions for us.
What inspired you to go into your major/career field?
After getting accepted here, I didn’t know what I wanted my major to be. I went to an open house at SJC before I started my freshman year and I went to the Computer Science table and talked to S. Jane [Fritz]. She told me a lot of great things about computer science, and it seemed interesting to me so that is when I made my decision. Additionally, my dad is a computer science person, too, and he used to teach me a lot of things about computers during my childhood. I built my own computer with my dad when I was 10.
Samantha Miller '16 with President Jack Calareso and his wife, Rose.
What’s been the best part about attending SJC?
I’ve made some great, lifelong friends here. In middle school and high school, I felt like I didn’t really fit in, and now I feel like I have found a place where I belong.
The scholarship you received from UPE is one of the most prestigious they award. What has that meant to you?
It was an honor to receive that scholarship. I was not expecting to win the top award, so it was a surprise when I did. It’s nice to be recognized for the things I’ve been doing lately. I balance a lot of different responsibilities on my plate. For example, I am the president of our College’s chapter of UPE computer science honor society, and also the president of our SJC’s ACM chapter club at the same time. Among other things, like being a member of the SJC programming team, the Brookhaven National Lab and my school work in general, it is a lot to handle. I appreciate winning that scholarship for doing the things I would do even if there was no scholarship to win.
Tell us a little about your research at Brookhaven National Laboratory and your affiliation with the lab in general.
In January (2015) I did the mini-semester internship at the lab. I lived onsite there in the dorms. I learned a lot during this time and met interesting scientists and researchers, as well as other undergraduates. Then, over the summer, I did an internship called SULI. I was able to work on a team of brilliant scientists at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) and they guided me on a project titled “Software development for multi wavelength image correlation”. I plan to go back there in the summer to continue the same project. I love it there.
What was most memorable about your recent presentations at the Undergraduate Research Technology Conference at MIT?
After my last presentation was over, it was cool to talk about my research with other people who have never heard about the NSLS-II, and it was also awesome to hear about what other students from different affiliations did research on. Also, a very memorable thing for me was when [SJC President Jack P. Calareso, Ph.D. and his wife, Rose,] came to the MIT campus to meet me and see my presentation. It’s also nice to know that my research paper will be published through MIT and IEEE.
Do you get nervous before your presentations?
I used to be painfully shy when I was younger and hate public speaking, but now public speaking is no problem for me and I genuinely enjoy it.
How are you able to successfully blend your schoolwork and all the other activities you’re involved in?
Time management is a necessary skill I have developed in college.
Who has been the biggest influence on your life and why?
In my entire life, my dad is probably the one who has influenced me the most. He’s taught me a lot of life skills that you don’t learn in school, like leadership, and to not give up on things right away. He is really successful in the computer science field as the director of technology for Suffolk County, so I look up to him and aspire to be successful in my own life as well.
What is your favorite book?
The Hunger Games!
Where’s your favorite place to study?
Lab B-6 in the BT building, and in the math lab with my friends.
Do you have any hobbies or talents? What do you do in your spare time?
About two years ago I tried teaching myself how to play the ukulele and now I really like trying to pick up new songs on it. Also, I am a photography nerd. I took a bunch of photography classes with Professor Rick Miller in the art department and I enjoy it so much. My favorite art class here is black and white photography. Also, I like being outside, having campfires and making s’mores with my friends.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
When I first started college, I got a really bad final grade in one of my first difficult computer science classes. I went to my adviser’s office, S. Jane Fritz, and I told her that I wanted to switch my major. She convinced me to retake the class over the summer and I ended up doing really well and I am happy she convinced me to stay. S. Jane is the best adviser I could ask for.
You’ve already had many wonderful things happen for you, thanks to your hard work and dedication. What is your ultimate career plan?
Honestly, I still don’t know what exactly I want to do. I am still trying to figure that out. I have a lot of widespread interests, so it’s hard to decide.