Getting turned on to math led Abdalah Adan to electrical engineering. The pandemic was a challenge, but he is grateful for the relationships he has built with faculty and fellow students.
Abdalah Adan is a senior, graduating this quarter with a B.A. in electrical engineering.
A few short years ago, Adan was studying health at his local community college. Like most degrees it required two math classes, and Adan found that the content of these peripheral classes fascinated and excited him far more than his chosen major. He completed the entire series of math classes, earning high grades, and was soon hungry for more. “I decided to switch to something related to math, and electrical engineering turned out to be the best option. I didn’t enjoy the analysis and theory part of math. I wanted to apply the concepts I was learning. After I switched majors, I started using the methods I learned in my math classes, and I really enjoyed it,” he explained.
Adan knew from the beginning that he would be attending a UW campus. He ultimately chose UW Tacoma because of its smaller class sizes and, therefore, the ability to build more personal relationships with his professors. Once he arrived, he found that he was able to build the relationships he had hoped for. “My relationships with professors were really great my first year. They’re all very helpful, and willing to help us with anything, not just in our majors but even in personal and career advice. I can just ask them about anything, what they’re doing, their research… I really enjoyed it because that relationship is what I was mostly looking for.”
The sudden shift to online classes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic was a significant barrier to Adan, particularly because his degree requires laboratory courses. “I would wake up in the morning and go to my computer, and if I needed help with anything, instead of going to the professor’s office like how it used to be, we would have to talk to them through Zoom, which has not really worked for me as much. Especially when it comes to showing them something when you’re working with your hands.”
The sudden physical disconnect was a drain on Adan’s energy and motivation, but he says that he has appreciated the opportunity to get used to working in an online environment, and to help his fellow students do the same in his role as a Peer Success Mentor. As a first-generation student, he is especially aware of the barriers and difficulties his fellow students can face in their pursuit of a higher education. “I had to work extra hard to be successful, and I didn’t have anyone at home to help me, so I had to go to the professor and ask all these questions.”
Adan was able to find support from his professors, in the First Gen Fellows program, and in UW Tacoma’s Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Student Branch, a Registered Student Organization on campus. He also attended many events on campus, keeping up with opportunities for engagement through his student email. His engagement enriched his time on campus significantly. “The campus was very welcoming, and I really liked the small-scale environment. I really enjoyed the two and a half quarters I was able to have in person. I’m really glad I was able to be a part of it.”
After graduating this spring, Adan plans to join the workforce. “I want to go into industry and work for a couple of years, and then maybe come back to school for a master’s if possible. But for now, I want to start working and see where that leads me.”
Aaron Artman, president of the Tacoma Rainiers since 2007, will teach Revenue Generation in the Milgard School of Business, Sports Enterprise Management program. The class will be held this Winter Quarter at Cheney Stadium, with free parking for students.