Born and raised in Kuching, Malaysia, Oscar knew he wanted to go to college in the U.S. and applied to several schools with the help of his tennis coach. Graceland was his choice. He is a computer science and information technology (CSIT) and math major with a minor in sports management and will graduate in May 2016.
Oscar was welcomed into Agape House and the Graceland community. “Professors, faculty and students are willing to help each other. It is more than a community. To me, it is more like a family. Being a small college is an advantage; people care for each other,” explained Oscar.
Oscar’s new Graceland “family” helped him add an internship to his credentials. Oscar had heard about the Ackerley computer science internship opportunity at Smith & Associates in Houston, Texas, through upper classmates. Information technology professor Kevin Brunner made sure Oscar knew about the process for application and encouraged him to apply. “Oscar Chang was a really good candidate for the program. His technical ability, work ethic and easy going personality were a good fit. Graceland is fortunate to have this connection to the industry and several students have benefited from the experience,” added Brunner.
Smith & Associates was established by brothers Bob and Lee Ackerley, descendants of Marietta Walker. Their successful business in the computer industry has opened doors for many Graceland students in a variety of ways. In 2003, they established the Ackerley Computer Science and Technology Scholars Program to provide assistance to Graceland’s computer science program and to students who proved themselves academically. The internship program grew out of that desire to help Graceland computer science students integrate into careers.
This summer Oscar and three other Graceland University IT students – Carter Martin, Kirby Ray and Ross Robino – under the supervision of Graceland graduate Adrian Chia, who now works as a Senior Developer at Smith & Associates, were IT interns in Houston. There were newly employed, recent Graceland graduates that greeted them: Young Park ’15, Sam McFarlin ’15, Suchit Malla ’15, Dylan Liu ’15 and Luis Freitas ’14. Oscar experienced the Graceland family again welcoming him to the internship. Bob Ackerley, who enjoys meeting the interns, commented on Oscar’s participation, “Oscar was always getting people to come out and play tennis with him; he was a great addition to the team.”
Oscar explained, “The internship program focused on software developing; building web and mobile applications. I learned a lot of real-life applications and problem solving. Graceland’s curriculum taught me the fundamental basics of the CSIT field, which really helped me understand the tasks and concepts that were presented during the internship. Taking part in the Association and Computing Machinery Club, spending some free time outside of class and working on some personal projects gave me a better understanding of the field I’m majoring in.”
Oscar hasn’t decided if he will go to grad school or get a job after graduation, but his internship has given him the experience he needs for success in any direction.