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Oh the Places She'll Go

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Heather Ruderian graduated in March and was named an outstanding UCSD graduate.

Computer Science Graduate and Tutor Extraordinaire Makes Impact on Hundreds of Students at the Jacobs School of Engineering 
San Diego, CA, June 29, 2011-- During her time here at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego, Heather Ruderian tutored students, took challenging classes and interviewed for jobs. She did it all while working with the university to accommodate her disability: she is hard of hearing in both ears.

Ruderian graduated in March and was named a campuswide outstanding graduate by This Week @ UCSD. She is now a software development engineer at Microsoft in Bellevue, Wash. She transferred to UCSD after studying at Santa Monica College. She chose our campus because it has a great reputation in computer science, is close to her family in Los Angeles and offered her a phenomenal experience during transfer admit day in the Computer Science and Engineering department, she wrote in an email.

“I wanted to be at a school that is challenging and rigorous but also embraces the ‘gee whiz this is just so cool’ feeling I have about CS,” Ruderian explained. “I wanted to work with other smart people and feel like we could challenge each other while also working together to discover and do awesome stuff. I wanted a place where I was working with my fellow classmates to learn rather than competing with them.  I wanted to be part of a department that did not just consider CS to be a subset of engineering or math but actually saw the major as a varied and deep area of study in its own right.  With the Computer Science and Engineering department at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UCSD I found all of these things...I found exactly what I was looking for.”

Ruderian started tutoring students in Rick Ord’s and Gary Gillespie’s classes. Her positive attitude was impressive and impacted hundreds of students she tutored over the years, Ord said. He remembered feeling frustrated when teaching an introductory CS class and complaining about “oh the youth of today.” Ruderian, who is 31, replied that every time she saw these students, she thought about “oh the places they’ll go.” From then on, Ord’s entire group of tutors adopted a Dr. Seuss theme.

“She is just a wonderful person,” Ord said of Ruderian.

Ruderian found a home at the Jacobs School of Engineering among students tutoring CS classes. She loved helping students discover how fun it is to create programs, to build something out of nothing, she wrote. Tutoring also helped her master course materials better, she added.

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Ruderian with CSE lecturer Rick Ord, for whom she tutored. Her tutoring group adopted a Dr. Seuss theme. 
 

Ruderian never let her disability get in the way, either, Ord said. For many of her classes, she had access to captions describing a lecture’s content and professor’s remarks on her laptop. The Office for Students with Disabilities worked to resolve any issues quickly and effectively, Ruderian said.

“The OSD is amazing,” she wrote.

She also advised students with disabilities to be proactive and vocal about the accommodations they need. “No one can help you if you do not let anyone know you need help,” she wrote.

All the faculty members in the CSE department are open to mentoring interested students, Ruderian wrote. Ord, for whom she tutored, was one of her favorite professors. His classes are filled with details about how programming languages work the way they do, which are useful in the working world, she said. His compilers class, CSE 131, is well-known for its scope and difficulty. “Rick is passionate about all aspects of computer science and it's evident in his lectures where he shares that passion with his students,” Ruderian said.

The Jacobs School offers plenty of opportunities for students to find their niche, she added. Some of her colleagues and classmates were members of the Triton Engineering Student Council. Others joined Global TIES, formerly known as Teams in Engineering Service. Just hanging out in the CSE labs and working with your fellow students is often a good way to meet new people, find study friends and generally have a good time, while learning and helping each other out,  Ruderian said.

The Jacobs School also equipped her with the tools to find the right job, she said.  During her first quarter at UCSD, she interviewed with Microsoft. That first experience didn’t go too well. But by the end of her first year as a junior on campus, she had secured an internship with a local San Diego defense contractor. She found another internship the following summer and by the time she was ready to graduate, she interviewed with an impressive roster of companies, including Microsoft, Intuit, Apple, Google, Amazon and Cisco. She said she attributes her success to the Jacobs School’s dedicated faculty and staff, including the Jacobs School’s Corporate Affiliates Program that organize great job fairs and make sure that recruiters from top companies keep recruiting UCSD students. Ruderian received multiple attractive job offers, Ord said. In the end, she chose Microsoft and is now adjusting to life near Seattle.

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