Student Scholarship Q&A: Polly Muangrat, Information Systems and English Literature

By: UMBC News Staff
Oct 17, 2013

Every so often, we highlight the importance of student scholarships by introducing you to the very students they help to succeed. Today, we’re speaking with Polly Muangrat, information systems and English literature, who recently received the Aol Scholarship.

Name: Polly Muangrat ’14
Major(s): Information Systems B.S. and English Literature B.A.
Scholarship(s): NSF SFS CyberCorps Scholar, Aol Scholarship, COEIT Vijay Jose Scholarship, Alumni Association Award

Polly Muangrat with Charles Butler, VP of Technical Operations

Q: Why did you decide to attend UMBC?

I wanted to attend UMBC most of all because of the environment and the programs offered. By environment, I mean that when I visited, the first thing I saw was the staggeringly enormous Humans v. Zombies team thundering across Erickson Field. And I loved that. Just walking around the Commons, I saw so many different groups of people, different ethnicities and languages being spoken. I knew UMBC would be a school where you could be yourself and do the things that made you happy, which transcends across to the freedom in educational pursuits here as well. I get surprised looks during interviews when recruiters see that I’m both in STEM and Humanities, which is made possible by UMBC’s truly inspiring and challenging English courses and IS courses.

Q:  What has been the most amazing discovery you’ve made so far as a student here?

The amount of resources UMBC offers its students, especially in terms of post-graduate career seeking, internships and research opportunities. Different departments offer a lot of help, like Career Services, or the Office of Institutional Advancement. As a first generation college student, I never really knew how the corporate world worked, except for what I saw in “The Office.” My parents are not part of the corporate world, so my first internship was an invaluable experience to me. I find myself thinking about all of the career fairs and UMBCworks posts that I should be taking advantage of, and remind myself that without these resources, I would be desperately combing Craigslist or Monster.

Q:  Tell us about a class or club that has really opened your mind (and why)…

I have a great admiration for usability, interface design and the general field of Human Computer Interaction (HCI), all topics covered in my IS 303 and 403 classes, taught by Dr. Ravi Kuber and Dr. Shaun Kane, respectively. I think a lot of developers and programmers forget a certain human factor in the designs of everyday hardware or software, which can lead to wasted time and unfortunate future consequences. This missing step fascinates me, and these two classes really helped me see the glaring problems in technology design, and challenged me to create solutions.

Pretty much any English Literature course I take inspires me, and really reminds me how to think and communicate. There is a way that novels can access all of the human thought process that textbooks cannot.

Q:  What do you hope to do after graduation, and why?

After graduation, I hope to obtain a position within the US Department of Defense, which is a part of my scholarship requirement. I would really love to understand more of the crucial vulnerabilities in national information security, and to be a part of generating working, long-term solutions and defenses. It will also be a great starting point for me, first to help decide whether I prefer the private or public sector.

Q:  How important is it to you as a student to get scholarship support?

Scholarship support is the reason that I can hope to receive higher education, both financially and mentally. Mentally, a scholarship acts to me as a commendation of my academic and personal achievements. Receiving an award is the support and figurative “high five” that keeps me going; it assures me that I am on the right path, that I am doing the right things. I’ll remember this feeling of gratitude and pride, and hopefully be able to give another future student, somewhere, the same feeling.

Q:  What would you say to the people at the company who provided your scholarship?

I would just like to say, first, a very warm thank you. Thank you for giving me the ability to pursue my educational goals, and for investing interest and support in me. Just knowing that hard work will pay off, and has paid off, is instrumental in motivating me forward to work harder, accomplish more achievements and set strong, reachable goals.

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