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Dr. Richelle L. Oakley

As a sophomore at the State University of New York (SUNY) Albany, I was in search of different opportunities to help me find my career path. I had switched from computer science to information systems as a major. I was unsure as to what the McNair program would entail - only knowing that it would provide me with an experience in my new chosen major.

I was happy to find that the program helped me with understanding the nuances of graduate school, the requirements for applying to graduate school, exam prep, and exposed me to the research of others in different disciplines. I taught myself the Java programming language and programmed the k-means algorithm to analyze airliner operational data from an aeronautics company. Though I felt at times that I was struggling to grasp the project, my McNair mentor and his doctoral student helped me understand the concepts, fix programming errors, and complete the project.

At the end of the program, I presented my research at an annual McNair conference in Buffalo, NY and explored the local area, visiting Niagara Falls for the first time. Looking back, the McNair program was a pivotal moment as it provided me with the opportunity to engage in my major outside of a classroom. I gained the ability to discuss my experiences in completing the McNair program, highlighting my diligence, persistence, and competence in information systems.

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