When Emmanuella Appiah started at UCCS, she knew she wanted to build a community and take advantage of the many opportunities on campus.
Between being a full-time Computer Science student minoring in Entrepreneurship, Reach Your Peak scholar, Development Office student employee, Senator at Large in the Student Government Association and member of the African Student Association, the Black Student Union and the Sisterhood Club, it’s safe to say she’s succeeded.
“One of the big things here that I really wanted to make sure that I did when I came on campus was to build a community,” said Emmanuella. “It can be more comfortable to just go straight from your dorm to class and not talk to anyone, but that’s not the experience that I wanted. UCCS was the perfect size because it’s big enough that there’s different people to meet and connections to make, but it’s also not hard to build communities because people know each other.”
Being a Reach Your Peak (RYP) scholarship recipient has been instrumental in helping Emmanuella to build those communities by connecting her to other scholars and students through events and networking opportunities.
“Since becoming a scholar, I’ve been participating in and helping with events,” Emmanuella said. “One was the RYP reception, where you get the chance to meet donors, which has probably been my favorite so far. We also had an event where we discussed the importance of networking. It was just scholars, but it was really cool to start networking and it felt more comfortable because you knew it was other students.”
RYP has also helped by removing some of the financial pressure, giving her more time to be involved in clubs and organizations while lining her up for a part-time student assistant job in the Development Office.
“Scholarships take off such a big piece of financial burden, so instead of having to work as much as I would otherwise, I can worry less about those student debts,” noted Emmanuella. “I’m able to be involved on campus and have time for other things.”
Another event Emmanuella speaks fondly of is the Journey to Africa event put on by the African Student Association in spring, which gave her the opportunity to share about her family’s culture and learn about other African heritages.
“I was born and raised in Denver and my family is from Ghana, so my older sister and I grew up in a Ghanaian household and also speak another language called Twi,” Emmanuella said. “The Journey to Africa event was very impactful and allowed me to represent my culture and learn about other cultures since we highlighted different regions of Africa.”
Emmanuella shared how the Journey to Africa event involved a lot of planning and she was grateful it was a success.
“It took a lot of preparation and it was the first time that it’s come back since COVID, so it was a lot to live up to with all expectations surrounding it,” she added. “But it turned out really great. We had food, we had performances, dancing, things like that.”
Amid all these clubs and events are Emmanuella’s Computer Science studies, where she specializes in Cybersecurity, though she originally planned to study Criminal Justice and Business.
“What really pushed me to make the change from Criminal Justice was that I wanted to try something different,” she explained. “I always had an interest in computers, but I never got to fully explore that interest so I decided that now would be a great time to see how it is, what it has to offer and learn about another thing that I’m really interested in.”
Spare time is elusive in Emmanuella’s schedule, but when she does find it, she enjoys spending it with her friends, making and editing videos and catching up on her favorite televisions shows.
“I haven’t been able to do this recently because it’s a little time consuming, but I like to make videos in my free time with a camera that I saved up to buy. I like to edit things, put things together, record, that sort of thing.”
While it’s mostly a hobby for now, Emmanuella is open to incorporating video creation in her future career while she explores different possibilities, with a current interest being ethical hacking.
“I don’t have a specific place that I want to work in mind, but an area I’m interested in is ethical hacking,” said Emmanuella. “Basically, you look at a system and see if there’s any vulnerabilities, and then work as a team to fix those vulnerabilities. I really like the idea of this job because I like working in teams and problem solving and seeing, ‘how can we make this better?’ I’m still researching and looking into other opportunities in the field, but that’s definitely one that’s caught my eye.”
For now, Emmanuella plans to continue networking, building her community and taking advantage of the opportunities and resources around her, as she recommends other students do as well.
“Use your resources. Look into your resources, see what they have available, what applies to you, how you can get involved. A lot of times I talk to other students and they say ‘oh, I didn’t know this was happening, I didn’t know this club existed, I didn’t know that this was an opportunity that applied to me.’ Make sure you know what resources you have and how to utilize them to give yourself opportunities and get yourself in a position you want to be in.”
About the UCCS College of Engineering and Applied Science
The College of Engineering and Applied Science enrolls more than 1,700 students and offers 23 engineering and computer science degrees, ranging from bachelor to doctoral. The college is a Department of Homeland Security / National Security Agency Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense and works closely with the National Cybersecurity Center and with more than 250 aerospace and defense, information technology, cybersecurity and engineering organizations in the Pikes Peak region. Learn more about the College of Engineering and Applied Science at UCCS.
About the Reach Your Peak Scholarship
Reach Your Peak offers annual scholarships to incoming full-time undergraduates with Colorado residency, financial need, strong academic potential, stalwart work ethic, and a minimum 2.5 GPA. Scholars must also work at least part time with the intent to help them grow as individuals. This scholarship lightens the burden of outside employment, and enables scholars to direct more time toward their studies. Community partners meet with scholars throughout the year at networking events and required workshops. Along with financial assistance, scholars gain valuable networking skills and form one-on-one relationships with program donors and supporters. Career development workshops are offered to help expose scholars to fresh ideas. Learn more about Reach Your Peak.