By Tatiana Hewitt
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Saraubi Harrison graduates soon from Towson University confident that hard work, networking and perseverance paid off in the long run.
Harrison, 23, a first-generation student from Washington, D.C., came to Towson’s campus years ago with dreams of majoring in nursing. As time passed, Harrison changed to psychology, then switched to sociology and later criminal justice, ending with biology.
Harrison finally found a major that worked for her by taking a General Computer Science class. Her professor, Shiva Azadegan, helped Harrison generate an interest in the field.
“She thought I was really naturally talented and she kind of took me under her wing and persuaded me to switch one more time,” said Harrison, known for her big hair and an even bolder personality. “She really saw something in me.”
After the encouraging support from Azadegan, Harrison said she was motivated and has “been successful ever since.”
At Fort Meade Senior High School, Harrison was a multi-talented student, which made selecting a major so difficult. However, she said she never let the label of being a first-generation college student stop her from accomplishing any of her goals.
“My true motivation in college, especially being a first-generation student, was to not fail and to try to be better than the generation before me and to make my family and myself proud,” she stressed.
Last summer, Harrison interned as a software engineer at General Dynamics Mission Systems. At this job, she helped build an artificial intrusion detection system and gained valuable experience working on a team.
“It’s AI based, so you don’t have to constantly update your system; and, with cybersecurity, there are always new exploits and new ways to hack into things,” Harrison explained.
The General Dynamics Internship brought to light the Grace Hopper Celebration, which is the largest women conference for STEM professions. Harrison entered her resume in a database to attend the conference. Waiting for a response, a Fortune 500 company, Amazon, reached out to Harrison.
“When I saw the email I just started crying,” Harrison laughed. “I didn’t expect it at all. I had several job offers after the conference, with several coming on the spot. But this is working for Amazon.”
Amazon wanted to interview Harrison for a rotational program for students who are currently graduating. Following several rigorous interviews, one being an in-person six-hour session, Harrison got the job.
“Never in a million years did I think I would get the experiences I’ve had here,” Harrison said of attending Towson. “I feel like I was so fortunate to be here, especially coming from a low-income family. I believe my experiences both socially and academically guided me in my career.”
Another surprise for Harrison was a $25,000 scholarship for the spring 2019 academic term. She was one of five Towson students to receive the money.
“The Critical Language Scholarship is a full-paid scholarship program for study abroad,” explained Gina Rinaldi, a student office worker at the TU Honors College. “This scholarship is a national scholarship available for undergraduates and graduate students; that is a very competitive scholarship.”
After graduation with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, Harrison said she will move to Seattle to work as a software engineer at Amazon.
“After this amazing job offer I see myself in the near future starting an after-school program for inner-city kids so I can teach them how to code,” Harrison said.
“I am extremely proud of Saraubi! Someone I truly admire for her brilliance,” said Delnorah Grant, president of the Lambda Beta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. “She’s hardworking and extremely intelligent! Amazon is really lucky to have her as an employee. I cannot wait to what else she has in store for her future.”