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2022-203 AP FY

A Goodnight Spotlight: Robert English

Robert English, Goodnight Class of 2025, is one of the many who presented their worldview as part of GSP 251. Read on to learn more about Robert and his outlook on life and the world around him!

Hey everyone, my name is Robert, and I’m a Computer Science major. For my worldview presentation, I wanted to give you all a little picture into my life and how it’s shaped who I am today. To give some background, I am biracial: half-Vietnamese and half-White. As a result, I’ve felt like I’ve always lived on the boundary of two polar opposite worlds for most of my life. Growing up, Saturdays were always the day I transitioned between them the most.

Every Saturday morning, I woke up to the sound of my Dad convincing me to get out of bed to go see Toto, my grandparents’ little black poodle. I’m not the biggest morning person… but the thought of playing with Toto made me get up every single time. With that, we started our trip two hours away to my father’s small rural hometown of Wallace, North Carolina. Considering I lived all of my childhood in the city, going down to my dad’s rural hometown was always an adventure. We rode four-wheelers down trails in the woods, we fished, and overall just enjoyed the outdoors as much as possible. By afternoon, I was always completely exhausted and slept the entire drive back home. 

But, once we got home, my day still wasn’t over. By dinner time, we were back in the city with my mom’s family for a different type of gathering. Here, we gathered around the newest video game console. Compared to my dad’s family, my mom’s family were all college-educated, living in the city, and had careers in technology. However, this wasn’t always the case. As a teenager, my mom escaped Vietnam alone after the war and immigrated to the US.

Over time, I’ve realized that these two seemingly opposite worlds that I’ve come from have instilled in me their few similarities. Although I’ve grown up in a world of two contrasting cultures, I’ve learned to embrace them both. However, as we all know, things don’t stay the same forever.

In September of 2018, one of these worlds seemingly disappeared after Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina. The same small, rural town of Wallace, NC that I spent countless Saturdays growing up at had been submerged in over twelve feet of water. Driving down the main one-lane highway that connected the entire town a month after the flood, all I could think about is how things once were. 

Although Wallace no longer seems like the same place as I had grown up in, I would still say that it has shaped my career aspirations, if not more now than ever before. To put this in perspective, I remember my grandpa telling me that he had only ever experienced one big flood throughout the 70 years he’s lived in Wallace. Yet, since his death, there have been two major floods. So that raises the question, why? The answer lies within the broader context of climate change. Specifically, how the effects of global warming cause more serious storms, which in turn increases the occurrence of floods.

Now, what does this have to do with my professional aspirations? Well, it has directly influenced my goal to protect the environment. Being a Computer Science major, you might look at me talking about all of this and think: man… how’s this nerd gonna help the environment through computers? To that, I’d answer that you’d be surprised by the wide range of capabilities software engineers have. You can be a software engineer and better the environment in many different ways, whether it be through improving electric cars or creating environmentally friendly technology to name a few.

In the end, it’s clear that my dreams and aspirations are fused together by both of these worlds. From the technology-filled childhood I lived in the city influencing me to become a CS major, to the devastating hurricane that affected the rural town I spent every Saturday at providing me with a purpose, I hope to make a positive change towards the environment as a software engineer. Moreover, no matter how much these two worlds might change, they will forever be ingrained as major parts of who I am.

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