Computer science and the great outdoors aren’t the most natural pairing in the world. But, for software engineer Thuy Nguyen ’20, nothing beats a quiet afternoon on the water.

“I just love spending time sitting by the pond or lake, fishing,” says the Springfield, MA, resident. “It doesn’t even matter if I catch anything.”

When he wasn’t busy exploring local landscapes as a kid, Thuy spent his time building computers in his godfather’s repair shop. His passion for technology steadily grew, eventually encompassing a range of interests such as coding, database management, and troubleshooting.

Photo of Thuy Nguyen '20, CS and CITS major
Thuy Nguyen ’20, the first graduate of the online CS/CITS program at Elms.

After earning his associate degree at Springfield Technical Community College, Thuy decided to enroll at Elms. He was part of the first cohort to take advantage of the college’s online computer science and computer information technology and security program. In August 2020, Thuy graduated with his bachelor’s degree, becoming the first alumnus of the CS/CITS track.

“The challenge of working online is to be self-motivated,” he explained. “You have to be disciplined enough to say, ‘I will dedicate this block of time to work on the class assignment.’”

“When I was about to graduate from STCC, I went to an info session with Beryl Hoffman and Wally Soufane. That was the moment that I decided on Elms. It was like God was trying to tell me to go there.”

Taking classes with Beryl Hoffman, Ph.D., was a revelation, Thuy said. Not only was she straightforward with explaining the subject matter, he said, but she would go the extra mile to make sure her students felt supported.

“I can wholeheartedly say she is one of the best professors I have had the pleasure to learn from,” Thuy said. “She is the only professor I know who responds to an email at 1:00 a.m. when you are stuck on an assignment.”

Elms is unique in the way it supports its students, Thuy added. In his view, the faculty and staff are wholly dedicated to the success of their students, even when the majority of the interactions they have happen online. This atmosphere was perfect for Thuy, who rekindled his passion for coding through his coursework. His classes gave him a fresh perspective on his job as a client support engineer at Paragus IT, a tech company based in Hadley.

“I realized that a lot of the tasks I do can be written into scripts,” he said, “which saves me a ton of time compared to doing the task manually.” 

Thuy’s advice for aspiring software engineers is to pursue their passion without hesitation.

“I think that anyone can achieve what they want in life,” he said. “You will find along the way that, along with the challenges, there are many people with their hands outstretched, ready to support you.”

Interested in computer science or computer information technology and security? Visit our undergraduate majors page or online programs page to learn more.