For Rachel Forbes, computer science is about community.

We recently caught up with Rachel to find out why she chose to study at WSU, and how she is sharing that experience in her role as student ambassador.

Why did you choose to study computer science?

I learn a lot of really cool things in computer science. I love the challenges it gives me and there is always so much to learn.

I can apply my computer science skills anywhere and I can do just about anything with the things I’ve learned. I really like that I am able to have a significant global impact doing something just on my computer and the fact that I really can help people.

Why did you choose Washington State University?

Rachel Forbes
Rachel Forbes

I visited a ton of colleges but I didn’t feel a connection to any of them until I visited Pullman and started listening to the people talking about their personal experiences here.

After my visit, I came away with the feeling that the people, students, faculty, and administration at WSU were going to help me succeed. I did a lot of research about WSU after the visit, and it backed up my feelings. Four years later, I don’t regret my decision one bit. I don’t think I would’ve gotten any of the opportunities that I had here or would have met the amazing people that I’ve met here anywhere else.

I love the community here. Computer science is very competitive overall, but at WSU you see students studying for tests together, working together in group projects, having fun, and eating lunch together. Even though we are all stressed out and competing, we are still friends, we are still a community.

That’s the same when it comes to student-professor relationships. Our professors are very supportive, and they really do care about our success. Our success is their success.

What is the best part of being a Voiland College Student Ambassador?

I love being able to interact directly with students who are interested in coming here. I ask them, “what do you want to do?” and I can see them light up, get excited as they start talking about the things they are really passionate about, and I try to find where they best focus their passions in a fulfilling way.

It is not only exciting for me to see them creating their future, but it’s also exciting for me to see new students come with an interest in being leaders.

The ambassador program is great for developing my leadership and communications skills. I highly recommend the program to anybody who is struggling with public speaking, giving presentations, or anything of that sort. Anybody can become an ambassador since previous experience is not required and all the skills are taught through the program they make sure the work you do fits within your comfort zone.

What advice do you give to incoming students?

What I always tell new students and friends is to talk to their professors. By talking with them, they see that you have passion, they see you have interest, and they will recommend you for opportunities that you otherwise would never had if you hadn’t made the effort. I honestly don’t know where I’d be right now if I hadn’t talked to my professors.

I also encourage students to participate in activities outside of class. Companies are looking for well-rounded people, not just the people who can program or build things. Joining a club/organization or the ambassadors program, will give you a wider range of skills, not just soft skills, but hard science skills that you will probably never learn in class.

Groups like the Linux Users’ Group helps you learn things about Linux, which is a great thing to put on your resume and it shows people that you are interested in tinkering with things. Being part of the Voiland College Student Ambassadors program gives you skills that you wouldn’t get in a computer science class or any other class. Joining a club like the ACM and participating in their Hackathon allows you to build a side project and work in a team.

Students participating in the 2017 WSU Hackathon.
Students participating in the 2017 WSU Hackathon.

There! Just like that, you’ve got team work skills, communication skills, software design skills, coding skills, and you also get to network with industry professionals, students, staff, and faculty. WSU offers activities like these and so much more than I can even mention!

What activities are you involved with?

In addition to being a student ambassador, I’m currently the president of Linux Users’ Group, co-chair and co-founder of the ACMW (The women’s chapter for ACM), secretary of ACM, logistics coordinator for the Crimson Code Hackathon, and I’m a student advisor on the President’s Student Advisory Committee.

Forbes will graduate from WSU in 2018 with a degree in Computer Science and Digital Technology and Culture. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career that allows her to develop solutions for those who are limited by accessibility issues.

Learn more about the computer science program at Washington State University.