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Abena Oteng-Agipong of Washington, D.C., obtained a Master's in information science (and a member of the first graduating class in this program)
Why did you choose Cornell?
Cornell was one of the only universities to offer a master's program in information science.
Did any of your beliefs or interests change during your time at Cornell?
Both of my parents are from Ghana, but after coming to Cornell, I feel more culturally aware and very comfortable in engaging in activities outside of my culture. I've definitely learned to step outside of my comfort zone academically and nonacademically.
What are your plans for next year; where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Next year, I hope to be working for a company as a user interface designer or human-computer interaction consultant. Within 10 years, I hope to have worked for a game design company or a product design company. Either way, I will probably be focusing on design and human experience rather than creation of applications (aka, coding) for the years to come.
What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?
Wushu and Liondance performances and competitions. Even ballroom competitions that I took part in during my undergrad were memorable. The drives to and from competitions and workshops are definitely fun, exciting and unpredictable. I also am going to miss the night practices and all the late night bonding sessions that happened afterward. I feel like the late night eating, playing games and working sessions (that ended up never being that productive) brought the teams closer and me closer to my teammates.
Why is your research area important/why are you passionate about it?
With the rising use of computers and their applications, it is important to design systems that are user friendly and will make tasks easier and more efficient. Information science fuses the technical with design. I think video games not only can be entertaining but also educational and engaging. Designing a video game has allowed me to apply computer science, social systems and human-computer interactions. I learned so much about designing interfaces, how to design a game (or any system) for a particular audience, how people interact with a particular game and what previous mindsets they may have and lastly, coding, from taking courses and seeking projects related to game design. This year, I worked on three separate gaming projects.
While at Cornell, what extracurricular activities or other accomplishments were important to you or you are most proud of?
Being involved in Cornell Wushu (a contemporized form of traditional martial arts that emphasizes the aesthetics of movements over martial applications) and Cornell Liondance - they are my 'stress relievers' and pride and joy. Both organizations have been very accepting and culturally enriching and both have pushed me physically. I have learned to do things that I would have never thought possible - like a butterfly kick or having someone stand on my hip bone holding a Chinese lion head. I have performed at Cornell, at elementary schools and with children on Take Your Child to Work Day to promote cultural awareness. I have also been part of the National Science Foundation's Computational Sustainability project, which includes several teams that are developing educational video games to teach about sustainability, computer science and math topics for middle school students. I have also interned at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, focused on Web design and development of Web applications.