Now from an alumnus perspective

Submitted by Tony I Garcia on

By Susie Sargsyan 

I have already written a small article when I was about to graduate from UW. Now it’s a new look back from an alumnus perspective.

I came to the US in 2011 to join the Department of Applied Math at UW. This was the first time I left my country and first time I had to live far away from home (Armenia), family and friends. As you can imagine, beginning wasn’t easy: challenge after a challenge. However, I remember how the support from the department, faculty and students made me feel strong and believe in myself.  Throughout the hard journey I felt encouragement from professors, sincere beliefs in my abilities, knowledge and strength. Every single professor was supportive in any way they could. I had support from the department with taking extra courses to improve my English, adjusting TA duties until I was skilled enough to be a regular TA, and being always open . The overall atmosphere was so friendly, people were so supportive, I couldn’t be able to accomplish what I had without those amazing people. Students were doing their best to succeed, but in the meantime there was no competition among us. We were happy to help each other in any way. When one had expertise in an area that others didn’t, we would get together and share knowledge, aske questions and work through problems. This was the culture set in the department and I strongly believe it wouldn’t be possible without the faculty and staff we have at the department. I even have seen how our professors supported students who didn’t have luck with advisors from other departments, how they encouraged and empowered students to continue what they started and eventually love their work. 

Another reason why I love Amath department is the flexibility it gives. Ability to take courses outside the department or to choose an advisor from inside or outside the department makes it possible to enjoy being a student and learn as many and diverse things as possible. On the other hand, the diversity in areas of expertise of faculty makes it possible to work on anything you love, interact with people with different skills and possibly apply that other perspective in your field. That is something I always admire and am proud of. 

One of the other bright moments in the department was the last year of my PhD program. I wasn’t yet sure what I wanted to do or where I wanted to work after graduation. I haven’t found myself yet. One day I was in a seminar by another Amath student (and my friend) on Machine Learning. That was a life changing moment. I was very enthusiastic and eager to learn more about it. With my advisor's support and encouragement I took multiple courses from the Computer Science Department to learn more about ML. I also landed an internship as a Data Scientist at HERE Technologies for the summer. (Side note: the email with the internship post also was sent through AMath Department.) I loved the job so much that I continued working there full time after graduation. Working there for 5 years, I recently switched to a new job working at Google. All this was possible because of the knowledge I gained at UW and support I had from everyone.

Every time I am walking around campus, I remember the precious time I spent at AMath department: people, seminars, parties, gatherings, and much more. 

My two little kids also love walking around the campus and repeating that that’s their mom’s school. Who knows, maybe one day they will join the same department and continue my journey. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity I had to study here, the knowledge and support I got, and the friends I found.

News Topic