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Aisha Abawaji reflects on her first year

A day in the life

Aisha Abawaji reflects on her first year

I came to computer science with absolutely no background in programming, yet thanks to the tremendous support of my professors, teaching assistants, and Faculty, I have been able to excel in my studies at Dalhousie

Aisha Abawajy says she’s a proud Haligonian, born and raised in the city. Her parents, originally from Dire Dawa in Ethiopia, immigrated to Canada to offer Aisha and her siblings opportunities that were not previously available to them.

Aisha attended the Maritime Muslim Academy from primary until grade 12 and graduated as valedictorian of her class.

Why computer science at Dal

Aisha had always wanted to study at Dalhousie and quotes it as being her dream school.

With all the program choices available to her, she wasn’t exactly sure what undergraduate degree to study because of her diverse interests. Aisha’s sister – who also studies computer science – encouraged her to consider a degree within the Faculty of Computer Science.

“I have always been tech savvy and the way technology works has been a fascination of mine since I was young,” she says. “I came to computer science with absolutely no background in programming, yet thanks to the tremendous support of my professors, teaching assistants, and Faculty, I have been able to excel in my studies at Dalhousie.”

In the end, Aisha decided to apply to the Bachelor of Informatics program because it provided her the flexibility to pursue other passions while receiving a strong background in computer science.

Aisha is especially looking forward to the change in degree from Bachelor of Informatics to Applied Computer Science. She plans on taking her electives in political science, so that she can develop a minor (and a unique degree to her) that she also really enjoys.

“The new degree also includes courses in management which I think fits perfectly with the needs I feel a student starting in the industry would want to have,” she says. “For me, the changes in degree means I can draw important skills from a variety of disciplines and incorporate them in both my professional and academic growth.”

Looking back after her first year

When asked about what Aisha liked most about her first year, she says that it definitely would be her small class sizes.

Although Aisha had a wonderful first year, she does acknowledge that coming from a school of forty high school students, Dalhousie felt a bit overwhelming for the first few weeks of adjustment. The Goldberg Computer Science Building – home of the Faculty of Computer Science – gave her the comfort to have a space that she could call her own. A space with a little less students – making it possible to recognize familiar faces and get to know people who share similar interests – made the transition that much easier, and faster.

“One of the reasons I think I was able to do so well in my school work is because of the support of my professors and teaching assistants,” says Aisha. “I was able to build one-to-one relationships with almost all of my professors, and I know they genuinely cared about my academic progress over the year. I really do think it makes a difference whether the professor can take the time to work individually with students and with the small class sizes in the Faculty of Computer Science, this is the norm.”

More than her academics

Aisha spent her first year focusing on schooling and her transition from high school, but is now getting involved in many things across campus. She is already the current Informatics Representative on the Computer Science Society as well as the Treasurer for Dalhousie’s African Student Association. She’s a member of the Dalhousie Student Union Student Life Committee and an active member of the Dalhousie Amnesty International Society.

“I do also hope to become a teaching assistant for first year computer science students because I feel I can be a mentor to students who – just like me – might not have a background in CS.”

At the end of Aisha’s undergraduate experience, she plans on taking her academic and extracurricular activities and applying it to a law degree. “I believe that my diverse undergraduate degree will give me the edge that I need to not only get into the law school of my choice, but also to excel in my studies there as well.”