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Smashing the Code

Melissa King

Melissa King ’15 M’16

Information Science and Cognitive Science; Human-Computer Interaction

Hometown: Brooklyn, New York

Role: President of Women in Computing at Oswego

Fueling the flame: Lori Newman Cohen ’79

“This fund helped us go to conferences and speak to people who are CEOs of tech companies. These experiences give the students in the organization inspiration to continue on, to become that next CEO of a tech company or owner of a startup. We’re really grateful for the support.”

As a student in a performing arts high school in Brooklyn, Melissa King ’15 M’16 came to Oswego for its beautiful campus and rich opportunities for learning inside and outside of the classroom. To help her find and pursue her passions, she took a career exploration course, which included personality and interest tests.

“I discovered that I’m very social, investigative and realistic,” King said. “That helped me decide on my major, and those three qualities fit what I’m doing right now perfectly.”

King double-majored in information science and cognitive science, and expects to finish a master’s in human-computer interaction in December. She enjoyed learning about data and the storage and retrieval of data on variety of devices and platforms through her information science courses and then exploring how the human brain works and how it perceives information in cognitive science.

Fusing her two undergraduate majors is helping her figure out how humans would want to use technology—or human-computer interaction, the subject of her master’s work.

Through her coursework, another passion has emerged for King, president of the newly established club, Women In Computing at Oswego.

“I remember sitting in class and realizing, ‘Wow, this is so male-dominated! It’s a good thing I’m here. I can start this out for other women,’” she said, laughing. “We might be small in number for now. But the number of women in these fields will be rising eventually because technology is being incorporated into every aspect of society.”

King said the new Lori Newman Cohen ’79 Women in Computing at Oswego Endowment has helped support female students hoping to enter the technology field. The endowment, created by business intelligence and data warehousing professional Lori Newman Cohen ’79, has helped the club grow from a few members to more than 20 students—both female and male.

Club members have been able to attend a hack-a-thon, a gaming convention and a Women in Computing conference, with conference fees and travel expenses covered by money from the fund. The members benefit not only from the subject material covered at the conferences and the hands-on workshops, but also from the networking with other students and successful professionals in the field. 

King said the group is not only grateful for the funds that Cohen donated, but also the mentoring she provides during her regular visits to campus.

“It’s helpful to hear her stories and know that she was challenged, too,” King said. “But she did it and has been very successful. It gives us inspiration and confidence to move forward and achieve our goals. That support has been invaluable, too.”