TA Spotlight: Tia Pope

Each week we spotlight an OMSCS TA, so you can get to know who's behind the screen. Here are five questions for Tia Pope, who specializes in ML and interactive intelligence, and TAs Intro to Health Informatics.

Tia Pope

What do you do professionally?
I was recently promoted from a cryptography role to a strategy engineer within the Security & Trust Organization (S&TO) at Cisco. This is a high-visibility role, were I work with the entire S&TO team, from senior leadership, directors, leaders, and individual contributors. I develop strategies that accelerate the capability in our business and our employees by transforming leadership, culture, talent, and the organization. This role also requires close alignment with engineering, HR, learning and development, and inclusion and collaboration. No day is ever the same. One day I could go from setting up Raspbian with high schoolers to testing a 3-D printed hardware prototypes to presenting a proprietary solution to leadership.

Why do you TA for OMSCS?
Mainly to give back, take part in educating the world in CS, and supporting those who rely on the online format for educating themselves. So far as a TA, I have met life-long friends, solved interesting problems, and built a network. I've learned so much as a TA that it's honestly irreplaceable. It's a great pill to swallow to see how much there is to know but so rewarding to learn from other TAs, instructors, and especially students! I have much more of an appreciation for TAs since being on the "other side." Depending on the course, TAs put in a ton time and energy for less than pennies. Many care deeply about students and really fight for the best interest of the students and courses, despite what the general perception may be.

What's your advice for future students in OMSCS?
Take your time. Don't given into the pressure of trying to graduate in the shortest amount of time. Be mindful of the more pressing priorities at hand (your family, your job). Be as candid as you can with your TAs and instructors. We all have lives just like you, we understand that life happens, and we advocate for you as much as humanly possible.

What's your favorite memory from your time in OMSCS so far?
I'll share two. 1) Having a student tell me that when I took the time to work with them through a problem, it was what encouraged them to stay in the program and eventually graduate.  2) Staying up late solving problems with my instructing team. It was like going into battle and winning. Such a sense of satisfaction and we all bonded though we were across the world. 

What's your preferred programming language, and why?
Python. It is versatile and also the easiest language for me to digest. And the community is fantastic.