Hannah Riggs

Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight: Hannah Riggs

Place of Residence

Waltham, Massachusetts

Program

Master of Liberal Arts, Software Engineering, 2018; Web Technologies Certificate

Professional Field

Contemporary dancer at Fusionworks Dance Company and performance artist at TEN31 Productions

Prior Education

Bachelor's degree in dance (ballet and modern), Conservatory of Performing Arts at Point Park University
I plan to start working as a software engineer this upcoming summer or fall, so all the skills I have gained and improved through this degree have been essential for my transition to a new field.

May 2018

Why did you decide to earn a degree at Harvard Extension?              

After graduating from college and becoming a professional dancer, I knew I wanted to do more than simply dance (though I still love dancing). I found that I had an interest in web development, so I began taking classes in the web development field at Harvard Extension School. After taking a few web-related classes, I found that my true passion lay in the software engineering field and I switched into the software engineering program. I am so glad I did because there were so many different, interesting classes that I was able to take in order to grow and explore my passion.

How has this experience helped your career or personal development?    

I plan to start working as a software engineer this upcoming summer or fall, so all the skills I have gained and improved through this degree have been essential for my transition to a new field. The final capstone class has especially improved my skill at working in a team and communicating effectively.

How did you manage to balance your studies with work and family responsibilities?  

Sticking to a schedule allowed me to balance my work and school life. I found that if I scheduled time to study and made a commitment to get that work done, then I finished all my work on time. It helped that the Harvard Extension faculty were very organized and gave us plenty of notice for assignments and tests so we could plan ahead.

Do you have a favorite class or faculty member? Why?     

One of my favorite courses was Systems Programming and Machine Organization taught by Eddie Kohler and Margo Seltzer. It was quite challenging, and the work was very intensive, but this made me feel all the more accomplished when I had successfully completed the class! I also enjoyed Software Design: Principles, Models, and Patterns taught by Eric Gieseke. I have greatly improved as a programmer, critical thinker, and writer because of this excellent, project-based class.

Do you have any advice for new students?

My advice is that students take full advantage of everything Harvard Extension School and their classes have to offer, and truly take their future into their own hands. The teaching staff is so welcoming and eager for students to succeed that if students ever need any help they shouldn't hesitate to ask for advice.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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