Featured Student: Josh Melendez
Hometown: Clarksville, Tennessee
What drew you to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville?
I’m originally from Clarksville, Tennessee, and I heard about UT from word of mouth and how great the program is and how the faculty and staff really care about students. During my high school time I did dual enrollment at another university and I got familiar with that program and I felt my peers and teachers weren’t really passionate.
In my first year (2016) as a freshman at UT I instantly noticed a difference with the professors and my peers in the classroom. They were much more engaged and charismatic about what they were learning or teaching.
How did you learn about the BSIS major?
I learned about it from my professors after having conversations with them about trying to find my interests and my passion. I learned how information plays a role in everything, and that Information sciences professionals are in every field imaginable. Ultimately I chose this major due to its high demand, it’s versatility, and my own passion for technology.
I’m especially interested in the concentration for user experience design because, in my free time, I like to do things related to that. I thought it was great that there was a concentration aligned with my interest. Currently I do freelance work designing websites, designing the front end for a number of different start-ups in the US and Germany. Mainly it’s been technical grunt work but it’s related to what I ultimately want to do after I graduate.
What prompted you to choose the BSIS major?
I changed my major twice. I was originally a business major and I did that because I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go with my education. I always had a lot of computer skills growing up, I did website design and graphics because I was into video games. I thought that business wasn’t going anywhere and then I chose accounting, because my father did it. Then, going through the classes and shadowing someone, it felt like it would have been a very boring job for me and I wouldn’t be able to express myself creatively and I wouldn’t always be learning. I like technology because it’s always developing in new ways and you have to constantly learn and come up with creative solutions, that’s why I like the field.
What is your favorite thing about information sciences?
I believe it is about understanding what information is and making sure it’s accessible to everyone and understanding the ethics behind it, and connecting people who are not so technical with the people who are engineers.
What do you like about BSIS program?
I believe the program wouldn’t be great without the faculty, all of the professors in the college display the utmost care for students and enthusiasm for the major and I feel really valued, thanks to my professors and mentors. One professor I can call out is Benjamin Douglas Horne, he did an excellent job teaching information sciences. I really enjoyed the readings in his class and he knew what he was talking about and he was passionate and cares about us understanding the material and how it will benefit us in our careers.
You’re a student representative on the CCI Board of Advisors. What has that experience been like?
I was asked to serve on it by the director for Diversity Student Leader Society and also by the dean. As a student rep I talked about my experience at the college and also with the information sciences program, and I also shared a little bit about what I would like for them to do in the future, like new classes to add to the curriculum. Especially with the current climate with COVID-19, it definitely poses challenges for administrators at UT, and I feel overall they addressed the challenges quite well.