Every other week we spotlight an OMSCS TA, so you can get to know who's behind the screen. Here are four questions for Aja Woolworth who is a TA for CS 6515: Introduction to Graduate Algorithms.
What do you do professionally?
These days, I'm a stay-at-home homemaker and mom to a very wiggly 10-month-old little girl and loving it! But before that, I was a cyber pperations officer in the Hawaii Air National Guard and an adjunct professor in computer science at a couple universities.
Why do you TA for OMSCS?
I enjoy being able to give back to the community and being able to participate in the OMSCS program even after graduating. I've made some friends that I TA with, and it's fun to work together. Being a TA also helps me stay sharp on material that I learned as a student. And finally, I hope that this experience will help me be a more excellent professor someday when I am able to return to teaching again.
What's your advice for future students in OMSCS?
Have the humility to listen to advice from those who have gone before you and discernment to know what advice is worth listening to. We all come from different backgrounds here. Not everyone's advice will be applicable to you, but just because they come from a different background doesn't mean that their advice is worthless! So be willing to have an open mind, and be careful about only listening to advice that reinforces the opinions you already have.
Also, find friends, and find them as early as you can! Good study buddies make a world of difference while you're in OMSCS, and great networking in and out of OMSCS.
What's your favorite memory from your time in or working with OMSCS so far?
I had a good set of friends that all took Advanced Operating Systems together back in Spring 2019, and we were studying hard for those exams. We ended up changing our names in Slack to random, crazy facts that we were trying to remember — we're talking long sentences with stuff about monolithic OS designs and performance tradeoffs for different kinds of locks and barriers. It was ridiculous — but hey, it worked because we all passed with good grades! There was also the AOS office hours where the professor would call on us by name to answer tough questions, and we'd try privately messaging each other to make each other laugh while answering the question.
As far as favorite memories from working with OMSCS, I think the first semester that I was a TA for Computer Networking, I received my first "Thank a Teacher" award. It was so rewarding to know that I actually had made a significant difference for at least a few people, even if I'd never interacted with them personally. It's amazing to have that opportunity.