Mazdak Hashemi Why did you choose to study computer science?

Computer science is limitless. When I moved to the U.S., I didn’t have a job or a student visa, but I was good in math and liked computers. I was interested to study in a field with a wide range of domains and an intersection of technology.

Computer science is a diverse discipline that enables you to focus and specialize in one or several verticals - software, math, engineering, social sciences, culture, hardware, networking, artificial intelligence, databases, architecture, compliers, etc. You can also switch between theory and the applied side or do a combination of both.

I loved the beauty and autonomy computer science gave me. Computer science enabled me to continue my education while I was learning English and my way around in a new country.

What life lessons did you learn during your time at CU?

Perseverance. You simply can’t give up. Sometimes you might be on your own and have to push yourself to get to the finish line. I hit a couple of roadblocks while working on my dissertation, and it even got a bit more challenging when my father got ill. Life doesn’t wait, and tomorrow might be harder than today, so don’t slow down when school or life or work gets a bit hard. Figure out a way to keep moving forward.

What is your biggest career or life lesson to date?

Learning to be patient, listening, and be who you are. I had to adjust the speed that I was running in life. Sometimes it’s better to be patient and run at a reasonable speed than trying to reach the summit as fast as possible. There are times that you need to run a sprint and times you need to run a marathon so build the endurance and train for both. As I’ve learned to listen and observe more, it has helped me become a better participant in discussions and make difficult decisions in a shorter amount of time. Being yourself allows you to maneuver through life/career a bit more polished. If you’re able to be the same person in different aspects of your life, you can overcome the obstacles ahead of you easier.

Are there any “words to live by,” credo or top values that you follow?

Consistency, trust, transparency and respect.

What advice would you give to current/future computer science students?

Don’t focus on what classes are easier to take or just on getting an “A,” but focus on the quality and depth of what you are learning and have a plan for after graduation. Don’t be afraid to fail, be curious, be rigorous, ask questions and keep learning. You’ll eventually find what you’re looking for or you’ll decide through that journey to change your path. The beauty of the computer science is that you can always try another method if the first, second and third one fails.