During her undergraduate career, recent computer science graduate Cammi Smith lived a double life – balancing computer science with a love of theater.
While the two interests may not seem related, both aspects of her life were complementary. Smith found that her computer science skills help the theater, but her time in the theater also enriched her student experience. Smith fell in love with coding after taking a computer science elective in high school. She loves using technology to create. Smith enjoyed the fast pace of the tech industry, especially the ever-changing implementation of new software and machinery.
“We are moving toward a more technologically advanced society, and I get to learn with it,” she says.
During her time at WSU, she participated in research, working with Professor Diane Cook on a project to stabilize data output from cell phones. She was also active in clubs, such as the WSU student chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and in WSU’s annual hackathon. And, she gained valuable internship experience in software development at Dell EMC Corporation. The hands-on experiences allowed her to apply concepts and skills from her classes and brought her learning to life, she says.
“They definitely made me a better computer scientist,” she said.
While she loves coding, Smith also has had a lifelong passion for music. Smith had been a singer for 13 years, and wanted to take her talents to the stage. She became involved in the Regional Theater of the Palouse, where she joined productions of the Adams Family and Sister Act. Smith found the opportunity to sing, dance, act on stage and bond with other cast members extremely rewarding.
At times, balancing the two sides of her life has been challenging. While she struggled at first, juggling multiple commitments taught her meaningful lessons in time management. She learned how to prioritize her obligations and plan for success.
“It’s mostly trial and error. You have to figure out what works best for you,” Smith said.
But, she also has been able to find and maintain something she’s passionate about. Smith was able to go to work hard in the classroom while still being able to discover her talents in the theatre. She encourages other students to make time for their interests, too.
“In computer science, it’s easy to get bogged down by the sheer amount of work, “she says. “It’s important to keep some sort of passion. Whether it’s playing video games or doing theater or whatever you love to do, hold onto it. Use it has a de-stressor.”
Since graduation, Smith has accepted a full-time position with Dell EMC. And, she is continuing her work in the theater. She joined the Regional Theatre of the Palouse advisory board and is using her computer science skills to automate processes and to create an online database for donations.