Graduate Alumna Focus | Diane Stratton

Diane Stratton

Diane Stratton graduated from Hood College graduate school with a Master's in Computer Science in May 2020. She was nominated this year's Outstanding Student in the Computer Science department.

Diane Stratton, Computer Science M.S.'20

Program

  • Computer Science (M.S.)

Department

  • Computer Science & Information Technology

"When I began my job search, I had a lot of trepidation concerning my lack of CS work experience. But that turned out to be less of an issue than I thought - there are definitely companies willing to take a chance on new graduates."

Please tell us a bit about your educational and professional background.

I have BS degrees in Microbiology and Medical Technology, in addition to my new MS in Computer Science.

My career started as a Medical Technologist at Saint Louis University Hospital in St. Louis, MO, where I worked in a variety of clinical lab departments. I eventually took a lab technologist job with Battelle in Columbus, where I worked on biodefense research projects for government and commercial clients.

In 2009, I transferred to Battelle's Arlington office, and began working at a government client site providing research and analytical support. Since that time, I've provided on-site analytical and programmatic support at other government sites, while working for other companies. I'm now preparing to start my first CS-related position as a software developer.

You have been chosen as this year’s Outstanding Student in CS department! Congratulations! Could you tell us more about your Hood journey?

I became interested in Hood College when I was weighing going back to school to study either Bioinformatics or Computer Science.

I attended a Hood graduate open house, where I spoke with department representatives from each program. In the end, Computer Science won out, and I do think it turned out to be the better option for me.

Because I was coming from a non-CS background, I needed to take Hood's foundation courses to get up to speed on certain topics. Although those courses took some time to complete, I think they really prepared me for the program's core and elective coursework.

How did this degree help you with your skill set and career?

This degree provided me with an entirely new skill set - one very different from the skills I've used day-to-day in my recent/prior job experiences. It has opened up a whole new career path for me.

Do you have any advice for students who are currently in CS Program, or are looking to find a job?

My advice would be more for those students who may be pursuing a career change. Definitely pursue an internship if you can.

As someone who works full-time and went to school part-time, an internship really wasn't possible for me at this stage. When I began my job search, I had a lot of trepidation concerning my lack of CS work experience.

But that turned out to be less of an issue than I thought - there are definitely companies willing to take a chance on new graduates. You just need to be up front about your skill levels.

Anything else you would like to add?

I've met some really great people - both faculty and fellow students - along the way. It's been an incredibly rewarding experience!

Inspired by Diane's story to #GoFurther in your education to boost your career? Learn about Hood College’s graduate programs, including the Computer Science MS, by clicking here.