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College Updates from Tanya Cano ('16), Darling Garcia ('16), and Zachary Hood ('13)

This fall, Pre-Engineering Technology graduates Tanya Cano (‘16), Darling Garcia (‘16), and Zachary Hood (‘13) returned to Davies to share their college experiences with students in their former program. Tanya and Darling are both freshmen, at Rochester Institute of Technology and University of Rhode Island respectively, and Zachary is completing his final year at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). Zachary has also recently accepted a job offer from General Dynamics.

Here is what the trio had to say about college, and their experience, so far.


What was the transition like to college? Tanya, you had already began college classes your senior year, through CCRI’s “Running Start” program.

Tanya: I loved doing Running Start and going to CCRI. Obviously the classes were more difficult at Rochester than at CCRI, but the transition to my four year school was easy. My major is undecided right now because, for engineering, you don’t officially decide and go into your branch until sophomore year. So you have time to switch out if it’s not for you.

Darling: I went to URI, at first, as a biomedical engineer. Then I switched to finance and recently declared a double major in math. The transition was pretty easy… I like it way more than high school!


Zach, as a senior, did you change majors through school?

Zach: I went in as robotics engineering. It’s one of the only schools in the country that has a major in robotics. I stuck with it and am also minoring in management information systems -- database analysis and storage. Originally I was going to minor in computer science and then I added management information systems and dropped computer science that way I could get more variety in robotics. Now with my offer from General Dynamics, going into the workforce, they’re going to pay for my masters and I most likely will get my computer science masters.

It’s a three-year rotational program where I’ll rotate every six months into a different department in General Dynamics at their headquarters location and I’ll work in a project team, underneath a manager. The first six months in there, I do an intro class, and then starting this next January, so about a year, part of the program is they pay for my masters. So I have a year and a half to complete my masters, most likely online. This is all while working 40 hours… So it’s a normal 40 hours, plus the masters.


Did you feel prepared for college?

Zach: It definitely helped having the robotics experience here; I also did SkillsUSA my senior year for robotics which helped set me up. Because I had a good background in electronics from here I was able to bypass one of the intro courses at WPI. It also helped with my robotics classes because -- especially the intro robotics classes -- they focused on electronics and similar engineering to what we did here.

Tanya: Because I’m only a semester in, I don’t think (Pre-Engineering) applied as much as it will in coming semesters, but I have seen things I’ve learned.

Wendy: I’m not in engineering, but it did help with math, having the background that we get here.


Advice for freshmen?

Tanya: A lot of people have questions about financial aid. My school is 68,000 a year. My school offered me 65,000, so I only pay $3,000 a year. So you can find a way between financial aid and scholarships. Doing CCRI was one thing that helped a lot with the package I was able to get.

Zach: It’s going to get busy with all the work, so find other involvements. When I see people who go to WPI and just go for the education, and not any of the social involvement, I see that people get sick of it. You need to get involved. There’s so many opportunities, at every college. Even if you just find one thing. But if you find two or three things, you’re passionate about, it’s that much more worth it. I’ve been fortunate and kind of torture myself with so much involvement. I’m at the point during my senior year where I’m an employee at day and a student at night. During the day I have meetings and office hours and then at night, I do my work.

I have two positions on campus. I’m a senior community advisor, which is similar to a residential advisor and helps out first year students. I was a community advisor my sophomore and junior year, but this year I’m a senior advisor, who oversees all the community advisors and residential advisors on campus. It’s one of the bigger student positions you can have on campus because you’re overseeing the entire first year class and the people who are involved with them.

I also work with our residential services directly, setting up housing and working in their office. It’s busy but the people are what makes it. So go not just for the education, but go for the experience.