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Change in Major Proves Seamless for BVU Grad

July 31, 2020 11:03am

Marco Uribe traveled six hours from home to attend Buena Vista University as a freshman in 2016. A multicultural scholarship award represented a key development in his westward travels to Storm Lake from his home in Spring Valley, Ill.

His older sister also played a role.

“My sister, Leticia (Uribe) Barahona, had gone to school at BVU and she spoke very highly of the experience and told me I should check it out,” Uribe remembers. “I looked at BVU, liked the people I met, enjoyed seeing the (Estelle Siebens) Science Center, and was excited about a school next to a lake.”

Uribe enrolled and studied biology. He switched to computer science prior to his junior year.

“I took Computer Science I as a general education course my freshman year with Dr. Shawn Stone (BVU Professor of Physics and Computer Science),” Uribe says. “The class was fun. And, I was really understanding what was going on in the course. I really found it all interesting.”

In the spring of his sophomore year, Uribe took Computer Science II. “I had another really positive experience with Dr. Nathan Backman (Associate Professor of Computer Science),” Uribe says. “I still liked biology and all my instruction there, but I seemed to be pushing myself more toward computer science. It seemed like a better fit for me.”

Despite changing majors in the middle of his college career, Uribe had no trouble taking the necessary courses and obtaining all the credits he needed to earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science.

Following his junior year, Uribe stayed on campus for the summer to work with Stone on a research project simulating the movement of celestial bodies. BVU’s high-performance computer lab came into use as Stone and Uribe worked to get eight computers in the lab operating in parallel to achieve the desired outcome. An intensive course in parallel programming sparked Uribe’s interest in the research effort.

When Uribe wasn’t involved in programming or research, he could be found gaming, an active member of BVU’s Anime & Gaming Society (AGS). He also participated with BVU’s Association for Computing Machinery organization for three years and served as secretary during a portion of his two-year involvement with the University’s Multicultural Engagement Leadership Team.

“AGS holds a set of collaborative ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ events throughout each semester,” he says. “I made a lot of my friends playing and experienced different ‘worlds’ with them.”

Uribe now resides in Okoboji and makes the 30-minute commute each day to AGCO in Jackson, Minn., where he works as a software design engineer, writing code for the manufacturing of sprayers used in fields of grain around the world. The Illinois native who traveled west to study biology didn’t know he’d end up working as a programmer for a multinational agriculture firm.

“I had absolutely no idea that this would be where I’d end up. That’s not a bad thing,” he says. “I’m really enjoying it. I feel like I’m still learning a lot. This is a challenge and I can keep learning.”

(thanks to Tim Gallagher)