Giovanni Coppola wants to shoot for the stars – literally — as a rocket scientist.
He doesn’t know exactly where his career trajectory will take him, but he has found some Lagrangian points to achieve his larger goals. The first is an associate degree in Computer Science from SUNY Broome, where he is also enrolled in the college’s Honors Program. The second: his eventual transfer to the Rochester Institute of Technology.
A graduate of Union-Endicott High School, Giovanni always wanted to become an engineer, following in the steps of his father and grandfather – but not exactly.
“I didn’t want to go the civil engineering route like my dad and my grandfather,” he explained. “Further down the line, I also developed a passion for physics.”
He took a physics class through Fast Forward, a partnership program between area school districts and SUNY Broome that allows students to earn college credit while working on their high school diploma. Physics led him to consider astronomy, and future career paths involving both fields.
Giovanni also took classes through Union-Endicott’s Project Lead the Way; program head Dr. Timothy Newton was a major inspiration, and “one of the smartest men I’ve ever met,” he said. He realized during those classes that his interests were tilting toward computer science. After all, to send a rocket into space, you need more than just the physical design; you need the software and programs to operate the system.
“I found the engineering science courses a little boring; a lot of it was building a three-dimensional object on a computer,” he remembered. “With computer science, there’s a lot more you can do. There really are infinite possibilities in computer science.”
‘A good transition’
A member of the National Honor Society in high school, Giovanni opted for SUNY Broome’s Honors Program as an opportunity to challenge himself and add to his transfer resume. Interdisciplinary by nature, the Honors Program offers a wide range of courses. Giovanni has already taken the seminar course and college writing, plans to take history this spring, and maybe psychology or sociology next fall.
He found helpful guides along the way, including Computer Science Professor Jennifer Sedelmeyer and instructor Cindy Delaney. Sedelmeyer readily answers student questions about the field, and Delaney encourages classroom engagement and participation, he said.
While students need to attend class, there is a difference between engagement and obligation, and Delaney’s classes are definitely the former, Giovanni observed. “You want to go because you feel like you’ll miss out if you don’t,” he explained.
Outside of class, Giovanni enjoys video games and Magic the Gathering, and has connected with fellow student gamers. You can also find him at the Student Center gym, or hanging out with his fellow Hornets in between classes in the Applied Technology Building lounge. He also plays basketball and hockey, the latter another family tradition shared with his father and grandfather.
Staying local for the first two years of college made sense to this future rocket scientist, giving him a low-cost and high-quality option to figure out his trajectory. While some of his peers plan to transfer to their destination school after three semesters, Giovanni plans to earn his associate degree first.
He also appreciates SUNY Broome’s flexible class schedules, which allow him to plan around his job at the local Wegmans. Labs also add a hands-on component that piques his interest.
“It’s a really good in-between transition from high school to a four-year university,” he said. “I have been enjoying it a lot more than high school.”