I had a tough time in middle and high school. My mom found a home cheap enough for her to afford; we were poor, and the school was very middle class. I realized I was really good at mathematics, and eventually, I took some computer science classes that I also enjoyed. I wanted to pursue them further in college, but there was no way my family nor I could afford it. Needing to do something, I enlisted in the Marine Corps for five years (and again for another four). It was refreshing to be with such a diverse group of people — different social classes and ethnicities, people from various areas of the country with unique accents and, in some cases, dialects.
During my first enlistment, I worked on helicopters. It was technical and very demanding. Most importantly, it required me to understand all of the engine, transmission, prop rotor and related systems. When I flew in the aircraft, my job was to troubleshoot – to picture what the problem was and think of all of the ways I could go about repairing it.
When I enlisted a second time, my job shifted to an even more specialized aircraft – the MV-22 Osprey. Essentially, it is a flying computer. The technical knowledge was even more cumbersome than the first, but I excelled at it. I also took on administrative duties. Bored with regular data input, I devised ways to perform the work faster – if I held my mouse in this one spot, hit Tab a few times and then pressed the space bar, clicked where the mouse was, typed a few words and hit Enter, voila! Eventually, I learned macros to expedite my job.
My biggest takeaway from that second enlistment is that I realized I enjoy solving problems and optimizing the way things are done. That is the embodiment of computer science. Furthermore, I believe I will be adding to my toolset of skills thanks to my extensive mathematics background.
When I graduate, I hope to take my skillset and apply it to something that I feel will give back to society. I’m not sure if that’s in biomechanics or health care – I’m not sure where these skills will take me, but I’m ready to take on whatever challenge comes my way.
We are proud to announce Peter Mahon is one of the current LatPro Scholarship finalists. Vote for his essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column) and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.