Winning the Web Development Prize

Kimberly Hersch

Kimberly Hersch

When I sat down to register for my first college classes, I was faced with a grand array of choices.  I, as an International Business major, was to choose a science or technology course as my elective for my first semester at Northeastern.  Options such as Natural Disasters and Catastrophes, Astronomy, and Biological Oceanography presented themselves, but I wanted to learn something new and practical.  I found this under the listing for Introduction to Web Development.

This Tuesday/Friday class was brand new, taught by a professor receiving good reviews online, and seemed like it would be beneficial to my future.  Despite all this, I was nervous as I submitted my request for the class, thinking to myself, “I’ve never coded before in my life.”

When I first attended this class, I was surprised to find that a large portion of the students had thoughts and stories exactly like mine.  They were students of the D’Amore McKim School of Business who knew that gaining experience in HTML, javascript, database usage, and interactive web forms would help in whatever field they pursued.

As time went on, I realized that I loved the class.  It included content I could relate to and saw employed every second I spent on the Internet, which is a lot of seconds.  The professor challenged us, while letting our creativity and logic build most of our creations.

He assigned us a final project: to develop a site for a fictional AP tutoring service.  With over a month to work on the assignment, I started immediately, spending random nights clicking, uploading, and typing at my leisure until every fictional tutor had a backstory, every class seemed dynamic, and every cost calculator rounded to two decimal places.  It was my masterpiece.

Our professor wanted us to recognize the hard work we’d done, turning the project into a competition with thirty extra credit points as the prize.  To put this into perspective, the project was worth two hundred points.

For some reason, my course registration thinking starting kicking back in.  ”I shouldn’t do it.  I’ll embarrass myself.  Everyone will be better than me, and no one in class will vote for my project.”  Luckily, this time I had a force field of friends against these negative thoughts.

My friend and fellow University Scholar, Dan Moran, reassured me as he looked over my code.  For some reason, his being a Computer Science major meant something extra to me.  So with the additional prodding of Grace Schulz and Alex Piers, I signed up to compete, knowing that even if I didn’t win, these scholars, who were much more science-oriented than me, thought my work was good.

When it came time to present my AP Tutoring LLC website, I was met by a group of impressed students and a professor that urged them to admire my work.  I tied for first place after a class-wide vote, winning the extra credit and a sense of accomplishment.

To me, this achievement meant more than points or pride.  It showed me that I can do anything, as long as I have passion, determination, and support.  I found that being a University Scholar brings more than tuition dollars.  It brings a family.  As my web skills were built, I built a group of cohorts.  Friends from different backgrounds, disciplines, regions, and ethnicities who pushed and supported me.  And I owe my win to them.

By Kimberly Hersch, International Business, University Scholar from Jupiter, Florida