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Alyssia Jovellanos to receive the President’s Award of Excellence in Student LeadershipJune 5, 2019

Alyssia Jovellanos, a Computer Science student, will receive the President's Award of Excellence in Student Leadership.

Can you share a little about your experience as a McMaster Engineering student?

I loved my time here! There was no opportunity that felt out of reach and I always felt supported both academically and in student leadership capacities. The students and staff here are wonderful and the community is very strong here. If you see an opportunity, have an opinion or an idea, someone's willing to listen. That's how many student initiatives started. During my years here, I had the opportunity to experience many things, from leading several campus initiatives, to conducting research, to working in industry on products used by billions of users. I'm graduating feeling inspired and equipped to go out into the world and tackle some of its most wicked problems.
 
What are some of your favourite memories?
 
Representing McMaster on the international stage is definitely up there, from winning at Harvard Medical School's hackathon to sending hundreds of Mac Eng students on buses to events around the U.S., and especially at the Grace Hopper Celebration in 2016 when I spoke on the keynote stage after IBM CEO Ginni Rometty (and didn't trip!).
 
Alyssia.
 
I also got to thank the woman who inspired me to pursue a career in tech in the first place there on stage in front of an audience of over 15,000 people. I wouldn't be at McMaster Engineering if it weren't for her. Starting and scaling DeltaHacks over five years, watching it grow and seeing incredible projects come out both as a director and a judge has been an amazing experience to be a part of. Teaching thousands of kids through McMaster Computer Science Outreach has been incredibly fulfilling. My first Welcome Week was definintely unforgettable — I met some of my best friends that week.
 
What will you miss the most about being a Mac Eng student?
 
I'll definitely miss the people the most. When we say #FireballFamily, we really mean it. However, I'm also really excited to learn and grow as a new Mac Eng graduate.
 
What does it mean to you to receive the President’s Award of Excellence in Student Leadership?
 
While this is technically an individual award, I don't believe that this is an individual achievement. I truly believe my receiving the President's Award of Excellence in Student Leadership is a testament to the entire ecosystem here at McMaster. One person alone can only get so far, and there's simply no way I could have done what I did without the incredible staff and students that make up this incredibly supportive community. Thank you all for this incredible honour. 
 
What advice would you give to yourself (or to future/current Mac Eng students)?
 
Put yourself in new, unfamiliar places. Constantly be in a state of growing and learning. The world isn't only engineering, technology and logic. Don't be afraid to try something new or something you're initially uncomfortable with. Sometimes a single person, talk or experience can expose you to something you've never considered before or knew about. It could change your perspective, your worldview, and even your career trajectory. Go to that conference. Cold e-mail that person you think is cool. What's there to lose?