Have you ever wondered about college? If you’re an Upper Division student, you probably have college on the brain a lot. This school year, I will be reaching out to Casady alumni who are currently at college and can share their experiences. It’s an opportunity to learn more about our alumni, their specific colleges, and gain some advice along the way.
First up on our college tour is Blake Gerard, who will graduate from the University of Oklahoma in December of 2020. Blake is majoring in Computer Science and pursuing a minor in mathematics.
What year did you graduate Casady, and what was the most important lesson you learned as an Upper Division student?
Blake: I am a proud member of Casady’s graduating class of 2017. I may be biased, but I always knew my class was a special one. Though Casady’s Computer Science program was in its infancy during my years in Upper Division, my introduction to computer science during my senior year helped solidify my major choice for college.
What classes at Casady were the most beneficial to you (either preparing you for college or perhaps being inspirational for a new field of study)?
Blake: The programming classes that I took for Malone Schools Online network, as well as with Mr. Ebert were most influential in my decision to pursue a degree in Computer Science. These classes were my first dive into the paradigms of code, such as Object Oriented Design and functional program, as well as practical applications, such as Cryptography.
What is your favorite Casady memory?
Blake: I really cherished seeing my peers experience virtual reality for the first time when I brought my Vive headset to the senior building. I set up an area for students to try VR experiences, and displayed the games up on the projector screen in the senior building. I still vividly remember my classmate Barry Zhang’s experience in Google Earth VR, in which he flew across the world to the street he grew up on in China and exclaimed, “I’m home!”
What advice do you have for UD students preparing for college?
Blake: APPLY ANYWAY! This goes for any opportunity out there, even if you don’t feel qualified, or are scared of potential interviews. It is always worth it to apply for that job, interview for that internship, or reach out to that professor to inquire about joining their research lab. At the very least, you will be training yourself for the next opportunity to come along.
What extracurricular clubs, activities, and/or sports are you involved in and which one of these has had the biggest impact on you?
Blake: I am a proud member of the OU Powerlifting team. We compete in interstate powerlifting competitions in an effort to move the most weight. It is a one of a kind competitive experience to walk out to the deadlift platform and face a room full of people all cheering you on and hoping to see you succeed, all with your teammates at your back doing the exact same as the crowd, but louder.
How are opportunities such as internships and study abroad woven into the curriculum?
Blake: I wouldn’t say internships are woven into the curriculum, per se, but OU works very hard to present multiple opportunities for students to get in contact with employers. We just finished up the Engineering Career Fair, in which over 100 employers were present to talk with students and receive applications. Many students are invited to follow-up interviews the day after.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the Casady community?
Blake: Head to college hungry for experience. It may seem a daunting task to start filling your resume with outstanding qualifications, especially when entrenched in the monotony of lower division classes. However, on multiple occasions you will be presented with opportunities to reach above and beyond the curriculum of your major path. It’s up to you to go out and apply.
Blake’s self-initiative, diligent efforts, and optimistic attitude have led to many amazing opportunities at OU.
The University of Oklahoma, in Norman, is well known for it’s amazing football team, but there’s a lot more to the university than Big 12 athletic events. It is the largest research institution in the state and offers 170 majors to choose from. Around 21,000 students attend OU, and 800 students are National Merit Scholars which ranks OU as No. 1 in the nation among both public and private universities for the number of National Merit Scholars enrolled.
A fun history fact for Sooner fans: In 1895, the school’s official colors were crimson and corn. Yes, you read that correctly, corn. Thankfully, the color of corn was difficult for merchandise and the colors were changed to crimson and cream. Boomer Sooner!