Pedro Arias Matos is an NVCC NViSION Scholar who graduated this January with an Associate of Arts (A.A.) in Computer Science Studies with a 4.0 GPA. Pedro started at NVCC in ESL courses in the fall of 2017, and by the fall of 2020, he was accepted to the Computer Science Honors program at Central Connecticut State University. He was also selected for a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded scholarship program. (https://www.ccsu.edu/csmp/).
In this program Pedro was awarded $5,000 per semester in scholarship funds as well as benefits similar to the NViSION Scholars Program such as individualized mentoring from faculty, a peer support group, guest lectures, and field trips.
We caught up Pedro this week. He shared his story. “As a transfer student from community college, I feel grateful that I have had the time to figure out what I wanted to study and why. After graduating from Crosby High School in Waterbury in 2017, I enrolled at Naugatuck Valley Community College (NVCC). During my first few semesters at NVCC, I took several English as a Second Language courses. At first, I did not know what I wanted to study. However, I knew that I wanted to study STEM because math was my favorite subject throughout school. The rewarding feeling of solving a difficult problem was what I enjoyed most in my high school math classes.
After doing some research about the different STEM majors offered at NVCC, I decided to take an intro to programming class. I learned about coding and computer science for the first time in this class. While solving my first coding problems and homework, I experienced the same rewarding feeling that I felt when solving math problems when I was in high school and middle school. I knew that I was going to major in Computer Science. I graduated from NVCC at the end of the fall 2020 semester and received my associate degree in Computer Science Studies (CSCU Transfer Ticket). I transferred to Central Connecticut State University for the spring 2021 semester, where I am majoring in the Computer Science Honors program.
At school I made it my priority to not only to do well in my classes, but also to be an active participant in my college community. This led me to become an NViSION scholar and I joined the STEM club at NVCC. The NViSION program is a scholarship program funded by the National Science Foundation, geared towards supporting talented STEM students both academically and financially. Through the NViSION program, I was able to visit and explore 4-year universities such as Southern Connecticut State University and Central Connecticut State University. Those field trips helped me to decide where I wanted to go after graduating from NVCC.
I will always be thankful for the time and energy that Professor Mariangeli Zerbi, Dr. Peter Angelastro, and Dr. Rebecca Binney dedicated to all NViSION scholars. These professors took time out of their very busy schedules to support and guide not just me but also all NViSION scholars. I am also thankful to the excellent professors at NVCC to which I attribute my success as a student. Those professors include Sandra Pettinico and Dr. Ruth Urbina-Lilback of the math department, Dr. Jeff Damiano of the Biology department, Goran Stojanov of the computer science department, and Karlene Ball and Dr. Eleni Saltourides of the ESL department. Each of these professors went above and beyond what was expected from them. Their dedication and love for their areas of study are shown in their lessons.
Through the STEM club, I became aware of STARBASE CT at NVCC, an educational program for elementary students. The program’s curriculum helps students explore and learn about fundamental science concepts. I volunteered at STARBASE during the spring 2020 semester before the NVCC campus closed due to COVID-19. At STARBASE, everyone had a code name. The kids knew me as the ‘epic gamer.’ The teachers who taught the class were ‘Omega dude,’ ‘Lyra,’ and ‘North Star.’ My favorite activity at STARBASE was helping the kids to program robots to move a small object from one point to another.
The Computer Science Mathematics and Physics (CSMP) scholarship at Central Connecticut State University is helping me greatly to advance in my studies. As a first-generation immigrant student, this scholarship is helping me stay focused on my goal of becoming a software engineer.”
For students interested in this program, NVCC is now recruiting for 2021-2022 academic year. Applications are available on the College website nv.edu/nvision or by email firstname.lastname@example.org .