Support network helps an international student with a passion for computing find her career path

Published: May 3, 2023

Smiling student stands in front of buildings and trees.
Shaniah Reece (Marlayna Demond '11/UMBC)

Shaniah Reece

Degree: B.S., Information Systems
Hometown: Beltsville, MD and Georgetown, Guyana
Post-grad plans: Ph.D. in Computer Science, Emory University

When Shaniah Reece came to UMBC as a first-generation college student from Guyana, she already had a passion for technology, but she was worried about finding the right path and uncertain how to navigate the college experience. Tapping into a support network in the UMBC community, she skillfully navigated her doubts while excelling in academics, research, and community leadership.

A CWIT scholar, Reece has served in numerous leadership roles on the CWIT student council. She has also served as a lead resident assistant in on-campus housing and volunteered with organizations such as Retriever Essentials, which tackles food insecurity in the UMBC community, and Building Steps, which partners with Baltimore schools to equip promising students with the tools to pursue STEM careers. 

As Reece discovered a passion and aptitude for research, the McNair Scholars program and numerous mentors helped her navigate a successful path to graduate school. She enjoyed the opportunity to work with James Foulds, assistant professor of information systems, on improving the fairness of artificial intelligence systems and recently described to TV viewers how biases from the human world find their way into AI, with harmful effects.

Having found a career path that fits her values, Reece is more than prepared for the journey ahead.

5 people -- a peer support network -- pose for camera. 3 stand in the middle, 2 are seated on either side. They all wear conference nametags.
Reece and other CWIT scholars and students at the Grace Hopper Conference in Florida 2022. (Image courtesy of Shaniah Reece.)

Has there been a mentor or fellow student who influenced your time at UMBC?

“Dr. Maria Sanchez has been a mentor who has had a significant impact on my growth. Despite the numerous times I’ve experienced self-doubt, she consistently provided me with the support and encouragement I needed to realize my potential. As someone who shares a similar background, Dr. Sanchez has been a source of inspiration and motivation for me to overcome any challenges that come my way.”

What has been the best part of your UMBC experience?

“Without a doubt, the most rewarding aspect of my time at UMBC has been the sense of community I have experienced here. Since my freshman year I have been consistently surrounded by a diverse and supportive group of individuals who were committed to helping me achieve my goals. UMBC has been more than just an institution for higher learning to me. It has been a place where I have been able to thrive and show the world a version of me that I am proud of.”

Group of students pose with mascot dog.
Reece and fellow students pose with mascot True Grit at the UMBC Bonfire in 2022. (Image courtesy of Shaniah Reece.)

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