Summer Workshop Pushes Minority Students to Pursue Computer Science Degrees

Undergraduate tech students from universities around the country convened at Cornell this past week for a week-long computer science workshop, encouraging students to consider graduate degrees in the field.

The workshop, Software Defined Network Interface, aims to increase the number of underrepresented minority Ph.D. students in computer science. The participants come from various universities including North Carolina State University and the University of Puerto Rico.

Prof. Hakim Weatherspoon, computer science, created the workshop because he said the percentage of underrepresented minorities in computer science was “very low.”

In fact, while between 1,500 and 1,600 students earn a Ph.D. in computer science each year, fewer than 3 percent of those students are underrepresented minorities, according to Weatherspoon.

“Each year there’s about 20, 25 that are African-American,” he said. “Around 20, 25 that are Hispanic, and 2 to 5 that are Native American. So about 50 total, which is less than 3 percent.”

“If we have 25 here,” Weatherspoon added about the program, “and then they all went on and pursued a Ph.D. and obtained one, we would have double the number of Ph.D.s that are from underrepresented minorities.”

The program — funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation — was free for participating students.

In the mornings, the students attended lectures from Cornell professors and deans from departments including computer science and engineering. After the morning lecture, students ventured around campus, visiting the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source and attending a campus tour. In the afternoon, students worked coding their research project.

13 students from universities across the country came to Cornell for a week-long computer science workshop.

“The focus of this workshop, research-wise, is computer networks,” Weatherspoon said. “They actually do a project related to computer networks.”

Weatherspoon described how there is a “pipeline” responsible for the low numbers of Ph.D. candidates from underrepresented minorities.

“If you go backwards from top down, one reason is there’s very few underrepresented minority faculty in computer science,” he said. “I’m the only one here at Cornell and across the nation, there’s very, very few. A lot of schools have zero, and some have one, and very few have two.”

In addition to “very few” minority students in Ph.D. programs, some of these Ph.D. graduates choose to enter the computer science industry instead of becoming faculty.

Weatherspoon explained that even before college, there are “not as many” underrepresented minority students choosing to enter STEM.

“What we see is a high interest in computer science, but then to get into a computer science program, especially at a top university, and make it all the way through, and then go onto a Ph.D., you’re just losing people the entire way,” Weatherspoon said.

Ato Watson, a junior at Florida Memorial University, participated in the workshop, describing the experience as an “eye-opener.”

“The workshop has been an eye-opener, being a student from an underrepresented minority institution, coming here, an Ivy League institution, where research is being done at an extensive scale,” Watson said.

“I’m one of those students where opportunities like this doesn’t present themsel[ves],” he added. “I’m an international student from Jamaica. This experience is new for me, so I’m trying my very best to learn as much as possible.”

Jaelin Jordin, a junior at Hampton College, also participated in the program. He described how the participants in the program brought varying skills and backgrounds to the group.

From these different skillsets, Jordin emphasized the value of collaboration in the computer science field because “the key to computer science,” he said, “is that there is never one solution; there’s multiple ways to solve a problem.”

Like Jordin, Maya Mundell ’14, a member of the workshop, praised collaboration among students, particularly in that the workshop’s participants came from around the world, including Egypt, Ethiopia and India.

“We all really enjoyed each other’s company and we all learned a lot from one another,” Mundell said. “I think that type of experience is extremely invaluable because now we all have friends that span the world pretty much. And we all came together with the common interest of tech education and tech career opportunities.”

Here are Lahore-based makeup artist Hifsa Khan's essential tips for summer brides


Pondering over beauty trends, experimenting with different looks on different models and dressing up more than a dozen brides daily is what makes being a makeup artist a serious job. Hifsa Khan is one such beautician, who chose a completely different path for herself over than a decade ago, determined to establishing a makeup career. From a nine to five banking job, Hifsa made a shift to the beauty industry in 2009 and has become a household name in Lahore since then.



This makeup artist with face tumour is redefining beauty standards

“The switch from a banker to a makeup artist was not an easy one. But, after my own experience as a bride, I chose to change jobs. I realised that bride’s need more pampering, a listening ear and a professional who is with them at all times to guide them through one of the most important days of their lives,” Hifsa told The Express Tribune.  “A prominent feature of my style is that all our brides look nothing less than dolls on their big day and that is what sets us apart.”

There’s no gainsaying that the beauty industry is a competitive place. According to Hifsa, she follows the Five Reasons Theory to attract clients. “Our advantage is the strategy we try to follow. The first reason is the consultation we give to the bride about what look we can create for her, keeping in mind her jewellery and outfit. Secondly, we do the essential hair demo on her to make sure that the selected style suits her face,” revealed Hifsa.



5 celebrity makeup looks and how to get it right

“Next, we provide a complete consultation on hair, skin and body which involves focusing on areas of improvement. Fourthly, all brides are called for a post photo-shoot touch up so they feel confident and glowing while entering the venue. Lastly, we give the bride quick fix tips incase her makeup smudges after she leaves the salon.”

The core satisfaction for any good makeup artist comes from using products that help customers look their best. “Makeup is not a transformation but the correction of imperfections. The way it enhances a person’s look without changing the features is what I love about it.”

Hifsa caters to approximately 10 to 12 brides every day. What she doesn’t like is how today’s brides go over-the-top for every function, hence losing their charm on the main day. “Guests are so dressed up on all the weddings functions that the bride has no choice but to get decked up on her mayoun also. But, this is not how it should be. As far as the bridal rates are concerned, these depend on the demand and supply in the market,” explained Hifsa.

Nadia Hussain’s five beauty secrets

Interestingly, the most common mistake she sees in the bridal industry is that most artists try to make their clients appear fairer than they actually are. “Natural skin tone should be maintained at all times. Going a shade lighter is still okay but making someone look ridiculously white is just not done,” she said. Sharing one of her favourite beauty tips, Hifsa said, “The concept of less is more. This is the greatest tip I can give to girls. Please use less makeup for maximum results. Makeup is just for minimal coverage and it should not be used like excessive cream on cake.”



Hifsa highly recommends products such as the Dior foundation, Mac eyeliner and Laura Mercier blush on. “Girls love fake eyelashes these days. Such accessories don’t only add to the makeup but also look gorgeous on their own. This summer’s focus is on makeup that does not show, and so foundations with medium coverage and low resolution are getting the most attention.”

Have something to add to the story? Share it in the comments below.