Hi! My name is Emily Strack and I am a sophomore studying Computer Engineering with a minor in Computer Science. I am originally from Sacramento, CA and as much as I love it back home, Colorado State University has given me an unforgettable experience so far. When I first visited CSU as a Sophomore in High School, I fell in love. As I continued to explore other colleges, CSU became the clear choice. I love electronics and being able to configure them in different ways to then be able to program them to do different things which is why I chose to study Computer Engineering. I also love to hike, ski, and explore the outdoors, so luckily for me Colorado has enough places to keep me busy.
Looking back, what were some of your favorite things about growing up in California?
In my opinion, growing up in Sacramento was the perfect location. It was only a 2 hour drive to either Lake Tahoe or San Francisco. I love to ski and I love to go to the bay area so it was the perfect set-up. There are also a lot of great places to hike near Sacramento and one of my favorites places is up in Auburn. Auburn is home to Lake Clementine and there is a trail to where you can explore an old bridge or hike up to the dam. Besides Lake Clementine, there are a bunch of different hikes within reasonable distance from Sacramento. I also love to travel and fortunately so did my family. We would take trips at least twice a year to different parts of California (mainly Southern), but one of my favorites is Disney Land. I’ve been to the happiest place on earth at least 6 times (plus Disney World twice) and I am just as excited now as I was when I was a little girl to go. I grew up in a baseball family, so one of my favorite things growing up and when I go home is to go to a baseball game. Ideally my parents and I would make a trip down to LA to the wonderful Dodgers Stadium, but sometimes we have to settle for regular AT&T park (home of the San Francisco Giants). My family is also a fan of hockey, so we’ll make the occasional trip to LA to see the Kings play or watch the outdoor series at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara. I loved growing up in California and I definitely would not trade that experience for anything, but I am so excited to see where CSU takes me and all of the great things I’ll get to experience in Colorado.
How did you learn about Colorado State University and what about the engineering program (ECE) attracted you to the school?
When I was looking at colleges, I knew I did not want to stay in California. I wanted my college experience to be different from what I had known growing up and for me that meant going out of state. I played competitive soccer in High School and I was fortunate enough to come out to Colorado for nationals. While I was here, my family and I visited CSU and I fell in love. The moment I stepped on campus, I felt comfortable, I felt at home. I was able to visit a few more times before I had to make my decision in what college I would be attending and I fell in love more each time I came back. The Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) program here was exactly what I was looking for. You’re in a lab your first semester here working hands on and applying what you’ve learned in the classroom to actual circuits. I also enjoyed the idea of having to do a sophomore project and a senior design project. I am currently doing my sophomore design project and I am loving being able to apply what I have learned so far into a real world project.
What kind of challenges have you faced in moving to Fort Collins and being an out-of-state student?
Coming to Colorado has been a huge change for me, but not once have I regretted my decision to come out to CSU. College is a big transition on its own no matter where you go, so coming from out-of-state definitely had its challenges. Living on my own, with parents approximately an hour drive and a two hour flight away, was my first challenge. I knew one person at CSU, so I was a little nervous to meet new people and make new friends, but luckily for me, CSU felt like my second home after the first week living in the dorms. Sure I got homesick, but I met some of my best friends my first semester here and I had them to fill in for my family back in California. Freshman year flew by, so it felt like I was seeing my family quite often and they would also come visit me about once a semester outside of breaks. The weather definitely got to me the first winter I spent here. I would ski back home in Tahoe, but I never lived in the snow. I made sure to come prepared when I moved out here; I was not going to freeze my first winter here. I had all the right clothing, shoes, etc, but it was still way colder than anything I had ever experienced. After the first few days of snowing, I grew to love it (besides brushing off my car the morning after). The first semester is going to be a rough transition no matter what, but coming from out-of-state can be more difficult just by being farther away from family and having to adjust to a whole new atmosphere.
As a sophomore, what have been some of your favorite experiences so far (in ECE, at CSU, in Colorado, Chi-O, etc.)?
My first semester sophomore year I was taking ECE 251 which is Intro to Microprocessors. One of our labs was to use a microprocessor connected to an LED screen and we had to make the screen display our ram logo. Many hours were spent hooking up ports and writing code for it, but once the project was done, I felt accomplished. It was awesome being able to see that ram logo finally pop up on the screen and to know that I did that. It fascinates me that you can build a circuit and then be able to program it to do different things and that’s part of the reason why I love ECE so much. I joined Greek Life my first semester at CSU and it has been one of the best decisions I have made in college. I’ve met some awesome women both in my chapter as well as others and one of my favorite things that we do is our philanthropy event. My chapter, Chi Omega, works with the Make-A-Wish foundation and my spring semester freshman year we had our Wings for Wishes philanthropy event. Our wish child and his family was able to attend the event and when we had the wing eating contest, the little boy’s face just lit up. Seeing him smile and just how happy he was in that moment, made me realize how important my chapter was for me and that just making a difference in one kid’s life is worth every minute of the work and effort we put into that event. My favorite experience in Colorado was skiing in Vail this past winter break. It was my first time skiing in Colorado and man what a difference! I got to spend three days with my best friends in one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to so far in Colorado. I also enjoyed doing a sunrise hike up to Horsetooth with some of those same people my freshman year. There are a ton of places to explore in Colorado and I can’t wait to see what I’ll get to do next.
Looking forward, what are some things you are excited to one day experience in Colorado and at CSU?
Colorado State has this list of 70 things to do before you graduate. Some of them I have already completed, but I am looking forward to finishing out the list within the next two years. A few of the things I have yet to do that are on the top of my list are hike to the A, take a picture with CAM the Ram, and explore out Mountain Campus. I’m also looking forward to meeting more people. Each year I have met some amazing people who I know will be in my life hopefully til the end, so I look forward to making more of those friendships and meeting all different types of people here at CSU. Colorado is still new to me; I am still learning about all of the beautiful places it has to offer and I am excited to adventure to them during my time here. One of my goals is to go to most, if not all, of the ski parks during my time here. I have a goal for this summer to hike at least three 14’ers and maybe even more. Both CSU and Colorado have so much to offer and I can’t wait to be able to explore them more.