Having just completed her freshman year at Iona College, Althea Damaris Chokwe ’22, already has achieved impressive academic success. A New Rochelle native and graduate of the Ursuline School, Althea came to Iona because of its small classes, in-depth humanities curriculum and honors program, in which she is a student.
Althea wasted no time in jumping right into academic life and worked all year with her mentor and first computer science professor at Iona, Jongwook Kim, Ph.D. Her work with Dr. Kim focused on coding and on researching refactoring tools, which can help improve the design and functionality of software. In May, her efforts were recognized with a Clare Boothe Luce (CBL) Research Scholars award. This prestigious award supports women in the physical sciences, mathematics, and computer science, fields in which women are traditionally under-represented. The talented awardees, including Althea, are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in a ten-week summer research project with the guidance of their mentors.
“Having this CBL opportunity, plus my first year of my Iona education under my belt, I feel I would love to code and work as a computer scientist after graduation. I am really excited for the possibility to travel and work abroad. The technology sector - especially with software engineering, social media, and online businesses in so many parts of the world - is booming, and I think that being a part of those developments would be quite wonderful for me,” shares Althea.
Thanks to her determination in overcoming the hurdles every college freshman encounters when transitioning into college life, Althea urges students to believe in themselves when they feel a sense of intimidation or concern that they may not do as well as they hoped. Doing the best she could, being proud of herself, and staying focused paid off for her with a high GPA at the end of her first semester. She is grateful for the intellectually challenging curriculum and small community feel that she has experienced so far at Iona.
In closing, Althea adds, “There is a lot I have learned being at Iona College, and the Clara Boothe Luce Program will propel me forward into greater understanding and experience in my field of study. I am passionate about computer science, because I absolutely love technology, and this new opportunity from CBL is the next great chapter in my life.”