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Sophomore's Love of Technology Fosters Accessible Education

This story is part of our #FandMForward series documenting our students' and recent grads' resilience, adaptability and perseverance in navigating the obstacles that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented.

Franklin & Marshall College sophomore Ojima Abraham was eager to spend his summer honing his software engineering skills. As a computer science and mathematics joint major, he had successfully landed an internship with CK-12 Foundation, an organization dedicated to empowering students to learn in their own way.

"As a tech enthusiast, I wanted an internship that would further strengthen my interest in building new technologies using the skills I've gained from my computer science and math classes," Abraham said. "This internship seemed like something that would help me explore my interests."

But when COVID-19 struck, Abraham found himself facing a pandemic, unable to go home to Abuja, Nigeria, with an internship on the horizon. He found solace, though, in a fellow rising sophomore who brought him home to Phoenix, where he's been staying since May.

Now interning for CK-12 Foundation remotely from Arizona, Abraham's goal of strengthening his interest in building new technologies continues. As part of the organization's mission, Abraham has been creating interactive learning activities that adapt to individual student performance. Specifically, he has been developing interactive web applets designed to help students practice Algebra 2 concepts. These applets are embedded in lessons to allow students to interact with them and gain a deeper understanding of the material.

"I get to build applets that millions of students who use CK-12 resources would use," Abraham said. "It's really exciting to see how your work directly affects millions of students across the globe."

It's serendipitous that Abraham is interning for an organization dedicated to ensuring great education is accessible to all students; Abraham himself was selected for a program with a similar goal: the EducationUSA Opportunity Funds Program. This program, which is dedicated to assisting talented and determined low-income Nigerian students secure admission and scholarships to attend U.S. colleges and universities, is how Abraham discovered F&M. He was drawn to the liberal arts approach, the quality of classes offered and a relationship forged between his EducationUSA advisers and Carly Rose Hernandez '07, associate dean of international admission. It was at F&M where Abraham dove into his fascination of technology.

"I love to solve complex problems— especially mathematical ones," he said. "So I became really interested in understanding why different technologies work the way they do and how they could be made even better. After some research, I learned about the concept of programming. Now I'm very interested in building new technologies that would improve people's daily lives in different ways."

He noted his F&M experience thus far has been invaluable in preparing him for this internship opportunity. Not only did the Office of Student and Post-Graduate Development (OSPGD) help him with his materials and interview preparation, but his coursework has taught him vital problem-solving techniques.

"The problem-solving emphasis of the computer science and mathematics programs at F&M has really helped me approach unfamiliar problems using fundamentals from past problems," he said.

Those techniques proved useful when Abraham encountered COVID-19 obstacles prior to the start of his internship. After navigating the initial turbulence, he reported his experience at CK-12 Foundation has further solidified his interest in pursuing a career in software engineering.

"The work I do exposed me to different aspects of technology I was ignorant of prior to this internship," he said. "It's made me even more committed to becoming a software engineer in the near future."


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