The NESCAC is brimming with talented student-athletes and the "Friday Feature" is a way for fans to get to know them throughout the academic year. The conference introduces Bowdoin's Samantha Valdivia, a softball player who is studying exploring computational photography as part of an independent study course.
Samantha Valdivia, Bowdoin College
North Hills, Calif./Marlborough School
Major: Computer Science
Minor: Visual Arts
Why did you choose to attend Bowdoin?
I chose Bowdoin for many reasons, however, what drew me most was the small classroom sizes, an academically challenging course load, the softball coaching staff and no commuting to class (I despise LA traffic).
Why did you choose to be a Division III student-athlete?
Being from California, I could (and did) play softball year round with about three weeks off in the summer. I love softball, but I felt burnt out and desired more balance in my life. I knew that if I pursued a Division III institution, I would be able to attain this balance where softball was a part of my life, but no longer the sole focus. I’ve been able to study abroad in Madrid, major in computer science, and have relationships beyond my softball team.
What is your dream job/career? Why?
My dream job would really be any intersection of art and computer science.
What are three top things on your bucket list?
Only one: pay the generosity given to me forward.
What has been your favorite class outside of your major? Why?
My favorite class outside of my major and my minor is Audio Recording Techniques. I am big on trying to figure out black boxes. In this case, this class breaks down how songs are created. From the common techniques, the science behind the equipment, and personnel involved.
Have you studied abroad during your collegiate experience? If so, where and what did you study there?
I studied in Madrid, Spain. I studied Computer Science and Spanish.
What internships/research projects have you participated in? What did you learn from these experiences?
I have worked for Qualcomm for two summers. My first summer, I worked on testing scripts for user identity modules (SIM cards). During my second summer at Qualcomm, I created an application to test the camera’s kernel streaming properties in user mode. During these two summers, I gained valuable industry experience and a deeper professional network.
What has been the most interesting part of your major so far?
The most interesting part of my major is my independent study in computational photography. Here, I am able to merge my interests in photography and computer science. Right now I am trying to investigate Google’s open source code on Semantic Image Segmentation.
What is the greatest lesson you have learned from being a student-athlete?
Perseverance is the greatest lesson I have learned as a student-athlete. It has given me the ability to compartmentalize when approaching a challenge. I believe perseverance is built from failure because every athlete has to learn how to cope and move through setbacks in order to succeed.
What advice would you give to yourself as a high school first year?
I would nudge my younger self to have started looking into computer science at that age. It’s such a powerful tool and there are countless online resources!