TL;DR - An Aspiring Computer Scientist / Roboticist from the Caribbean
Here's a little summary about myself:
I was born in Caracas, Venezuela, but for almost my entire life (since I was about a few months old), I have come to know and grow up in the small island federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
(If you're interested, there's a map on the side so you see where it is!)
It was here where I completed my primary and secondary school education. I attended the St. Theresa's Convent High School (or affectionately shortened to the "Convent School"), a private school that is linked to our local Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. However, not too long ago (a few years after I graduated), it was renamed to the Immaculate Conception Catholic School (or ICCS). Afterward, I attended our local community college, the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College, where I obtained an Associate's Degree in General Studies (here, I did quite a mix of subjects - Computer Science, Pure Mathematics, and Spanish). From there, I went to the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands), where I obtained my undergraduate degree, and then I went to the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida, to obtain my doctorate.
I consider both St. Kitts and Venezuela as my home. However, I would usually say that St. Kitts is my main physical home, and I am a Kittitian at heart. Sometimes I visit my maternal family in Venezuela for holidays, but I have never lived there for an extended period of time. My maternal family originated from Madeira and relocated to Venezuela, and through her, I have roots in Portugal. My paternal family has British and West African roots, but my closest relatives from this side are mostly living in St. Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla, and St. Lucia. In short, I have a pretty diverse and unique family tree!
Even though it can be overwhelming for me to have so many identities, I have come to appreciate my multi-cultural background in terms of food, languages, values and lifestyle differences.
Eventually, I want to research practical solutions to challenging, everyday problems that we face in the Caribbean and Americas and to promote the use of technology (particularly AI and computing).
What are my interests?
I have always had an interest in the way technology works, and I have a natural aptitude to mathematics and science.
It started from my fascinations of how airplanes work, to the idea of how handheld electronics and communications worked, and then it evolved to other ideas such as how our bodies and habitats worked. It had been a challenge for me growing up in deciding on one single thing that I would want to do for the remainder of my life, and I still do not think that I have adopted that ideology. I can be pretty neutral about things, and it is not always a problem!
What has mainly caught my interest however is computers!
I quickly developed a fascination for computing and programming since my days at the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College in St. Kitts, mainly from the excitement and rush I got from logic and how programs are built and how they work. It was from that experience that I decided to pursue computer science. However, it was when I attended the University of the Virgin Islands where I realized that computer science is a very broad field! With my "indecisiveness", it made matters worse for me because there came new concepts and topics that I wanted to learn about and explore! However, thanks to some advice I have obtained from my REU experiences at the Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) as well as my course projects, I then narrowed down my interests to a prospective set of candidates to study in graduate school; in my head were algorithms (because I enjoyed that class), robotics (because it was new to me and I got motivation from a trip to Carnegie Mellon I made back in 2013), network security, software engineering, and artificial intelligence. I will always remember my advisors Dr. Marc Boumedine and Dr. Wayne Archibald, who particularly nurtured me and pushed me to pursue my doctorate.
I ended up at the University of South Florida, where I was introduced to the world of robotics: a field that I had no prior knowledge about! Despite that, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience as a research assistant at the Robot Perception and Action Lab (RPAL) working with Dr. Yu Sun. I hope that with the work I am doing in service robotics, I can make a meaningful contribution to society and humanity on a whole in some way. I envision myself working anywhere where I can make an impact.