Dante Ciolfi graduated from OMSCS with a specialization in Interactive Intelligence. His undergrad degree is in Biology, and he has a second master’s in education. Dante’s job is the sum of two part-time jobs: he is both an Instructional Associate (IA) in OMSCS and a writer. Dante is an IA for CS 6150: Computing for Good and has “thoroughly enjoyed working directly with Professor Santosh Vempala. It’s so much fun helping manage a team of amazing TAs. I’ve also been fortunate to make a small contribution to the curriculum.” As for Dante’s other part-time job as a writer, “I explore topics at the intersection of, and adjacent to, technology, science, and the American zeitgeist.”
"I’ve read so many stories of the grit, sacrifice, and accomplishments of everyone in OMSCS. That gets me so fired up."
Dante points out that finishing a master’s from our top-tier program is a confidence builder when it comes to any career efforts such as interviewing, and completing OMSCS helped him get hired in his current role as an IA, which he absolutely loves. Moreover, Dante contends that the rigor, depth, and breadth of his OMSCS academic training have greatly improved his scientific writing, and the required papers in OMSCS have made him a better writer overall. Finishing OMSCS was an incredibly emotionally rewarding moment; when Dante saw his final grade in his final course and knew he was a graduate: “I knew I had achieved one of my most cherished goals; I had tears of joy.”
Dante was inspired to enroll in OMSCS because he was seeking a high-quality master’s program. He also wanted a convenient way to advance his career as an educator while teaching computer science full-time at a technical college. Dante was also interested when he read about OMSCS and how it represented a paradigm shift from traditional MOOCs. The program was able to maintain rigor while bringing equity to higher education, which resonated with him in a big way. What did Dante like most about OMSCS? “Wow. How many hours do you have? I’ll touch on the two primary things: curriculum and people. The curriculum is relevant and rigorous. However, equally important are the people. In this area, there’s the opportunity to learn from the top research scientists in the world. What a joy to work with and meet these amazing professors, the dedicated TAs, the hard-working students, the amazing administrative staff, and everyone associated with our great university. I’ve read so many stories of the grit, sacrifice, and accomplishments of everyone in OMSCS. That gets me so fired up.”
"There will be moments when you’ll be tested to the limits of your ability. Just know that on the other side of those efforts is the joy of completing this truly amazing program."
As a graduate, what Dante misses the most are the online dialogues in Canvas with both professors and fellow students. He also thoroughly enjoyed the office hours and other online meetings with fellow students. These interactions helped him learn course material on a deeper level and fostered a sense of community. What advice does Dante have for current students? “Be present. Enjoy the ride. Thank those supporting you in your efforts. Most of all, have confidence in yourself. You wouldn’t be here if OMSCS did not think you were capable. There will be moments when you’ll be tested to the limits of your ability. Just know that on the other side of those efforts is the joy of completing this truly amazing program.” If Dante could go back in time, the one thing he would do differently is to try to attend a couple more conferences, especially SIGCSE.