Niagara University strives to empower STEM students during their academic journey, helping them develop the confidence, clarity of direction, and heightened sense of purpose they need to live impactful lives. It’s one of the reasons why Jacob Arends, a computer and information science student, chose NU.
“The opportunity to have a flexible degree program really caught my eye,” Arends said. “This way, in case I wanted to change my major, I could. A lot of other colleges and universities lock you into the program for four to five years, and if you want to change majors or concentrations, some colleges will not be very accommodating.”
He's also found that flexibility within the computer and information sciences program, where he has the opportunity to explore the wide variety of career paths in an in-demand field.
“At Niagara, you get a little bit of everything: programming, web development, digital forensics, etc.,” Arends said. “This allows students to truly figure out what they want to do within the computer industry. Seriously, there is a lot to choose from. And at Niagara, we have a wonderful digital forensics graduate program, which is a fantastic opportunity for undergraduates to continue their education at Niagara and complete their master’s degree.”
In addition to the educational flexibility he enjoys, Arends also appreciates the mentorship provided by the CIS faculty.
“All the professors are willing to help out CIS students whether it’s with course work, or an independent study, or figuring out what they want to do later on in their education,” he said. “The faculty really do care and want to see the students succeed.”
Niagara also offers a variety of campus activities and clubs that can enhance a student’s learning experience. For Arends, he’s able to connect his classroom learning to his participation in Niagara’s Esports club, a space for gamers to compete nationally and enjoy one another’s company in a special campus lounge known as The Nest.
“There is the base level knowledge such as understanding the hardware and parts for the computers in the lab, keeping the systems updated, and maintaining the space,” Arends said. “There are also more advanced topics such as stat keeping against opponents, analyzing that data, or taking coding courses to make games and understand how the game and the code connect together.”
Plus, whether it’s collaborating with his classmates on a project or working together with his teammates in “Rocket League” (among other games), Arends is also leveling up on his communication skills.
“Communication in the classroom, Esports, and in the workforce will always help someone,” he said. “This is something that can be a two-way street as well. The soft and hard skills acquired in Esports will most definitely transfer into the classroom and into the work environment.”