Student Story

Major Spotlight: Abigail PinterParsons '21, Computer Science

Why did you decide to come to Simmons?

I decided to come to Simmons because I was impressed with their support for undeclared students and their strengths in various disciplines. I wasn't sure what field of study I wanted to end up in, so it was important for me to go to a school that offered a lot of variety. I also really liked the small class sizes and student body because I felt like I wouldn't get lost in a sea of students.

Tell us about your decision to attend Simmons without declaring a major.

I chose to attend Simmons as an undeclared student because I genuinely had no idea what I wanted my college career to look like. I had strengths in a variety of subjects and I wasn't sure which one I was passionate enough about to pursue a major. In high school, I had decidedly tried not to think about the future any more than I had to — so when I was looking at colleges, I wanted to find one that offered support for undeclared students and a focus on interdisciplinary studies. Simmons continually stressed that I had until the end of my sophomore year to officially declare a major and gave me the room to explore different courses until I found the one that I wanted to pursue.

What led you to declare a major in computer science and a minor in English?

During my first semester sophomore year, I decided to take a computer science course on a whim. I wasn't sure what computer science was or what the course would be like, but I decided to go for it. I ended up really loving it and taking more classes the following semester. That next semester I continued to really enjoy my computer science courses and started to consider it as a major. I met with Nanette Veilleux, the head of the computer science department, and we talked about what it would mean for me to be a computer science major, and ultimately I decided that it would be the best path for me.

After deciding on a computer science major, I kept taking English courses as well just so that my schedule wouldn't be entirely in one department. I've found that it's good for me to have variety in my schedule so that I don't get burnt out too early in the semester, and I kept taking English courses since it was something that I was good at and really enjoyed. After looking up requirements for the minor, I found that I had already half completed it, so I figured I might as well go for it since I was really enjoying the courses that I had taken already.

Do you have a favorite computer science course you've taken so far?

My favorite computer science course that I've taken thus far is CS 110: “Foundations of Information Technology." It's an introductory class that teaches you about a lot of different areas of computer science. I thought it was fascinating to get a glimpse of all the different ways that a computer science degree can be applied in the "real world," as well as emphasizing the ethical implications of technology. A lot of computer science courses are highly specialized, so taking a general course that covered a broad range of topics was really cool.

Tell us about your experience as a Simmons Academic Mentor (SAM).

I initially learned about the SAM position after getting recommended for it by Professor Veilleux. The SAMs are a group of current students who help first-year (and transfer) students get acclimated with Simmons. Going to college is a huge adjustment, and our goal is to help make that transition as smooth as possible.

I was initially drawn to this position because I felt like I could really make an impact in the Simmons community. Whether it be meeting with students one-on-one or planning events on campus (and now on Zoom), I wanted to help first-year students have a positive experience at Simmons. This position has also helped me learn a lot about the wide variety of resources that Simmons has to offer its students. There are so many faculty and staff members here to help out, and I feel like I'm always learning about new resources.

How is Simmons preparing you to become a leader in your field?

Simmons University Dance Company members Abigail PinterParsons, Shayla McJunkin and Cat Stewart.
From left: Abigail PinterParsons '21, Shayla McJunkin '21 and Cat Stewart '20, '23DPT.

Simmons is helping prepare me to become a leader by teaching me to stay true and authentic to myself. In general, I’m introverted and prefer to follow rather than lead — but during my college career, I've learned that I can step up into a leadership position if the situation requires it. I've gotten more comfortable being assertive and taking charge.

As part of the Simmons University Dance Company, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and choreographed multiple dances for our biannual showcases. I had to lead about a dozen of my peers and teach them an original dance, which is something I couldn't fathom doing even in my first year at Simmons. Simmons has always given me a safe and inclusive space to push my boundaries and gain the confidence I need to be a leader in the workforce.

Do you have a favorite Simmons memory?

I think one of my first and favorite memories at Simmons is hanging out with my friends in the study room in the South Hall basement. A couple of weeks into my first year, I gathered with some of my classmates to work on a lab report that we had due. As study sessions with friends go, we ended up fooling around a lot, and I felt like I had known them for years instead of weeks. Now, they're some of my best friends, and I fondly look back at some of our first memories together.

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