Randolf Uclaray

Jason Whitcombe

Randolf Uclaray 
Maui, Hawaii 
Applied Math-Engineering Program

BS Math 2014
Hawai‘i Pacific University

BS Electrical Engineering 2014
University of Southern California

During my senior of high school, I was very much undecided about where I wanted to go for college. I was deciding between staying in Hawaii for school or to move to the mainland. However, upon receiving the Presidential Scholarship from Hawaii Pacific University, which covered all of my tuition, my decision got much easier. At that time, HPU offered me the best financial aid package, immediately making it my top option.

When I entered HPU in the fall of 2009, I enrolled in their 3-2 Engineering Program. While attending HPU, one thing that I liked the most was the small class sizes. With smaller class sizes, professors get to know their students much better. I benefitted from this because it made me much more comfortable asking my professors questions during class or office hours. Along with that, because of the smaller class sizes, it wasn’t hard for me to find professors who know me well enough to write a letter of recommendation. Although I have left HPU, I still keep in contact with several of my professors.

In the fall of 2012, I transferred to the University of Southern California to complete the last two years of the 3-2 Engineering Program. The primary challenges that I encountered during my first semester at USC were larger class sizes, and a much heavier course workload. During the final two years of the 3-2 Engineering program, the classes that still need to be completed are primarily technical. My first semester at USC served as an adjustment period because I had to learn how to balance five technical courses while also getting involved with various activities on campus.  Overall, the semester taught me a very good lesson on time management.

Although my first semester at USC was challenging, I don’t regret transferring for various reasons. First of all, the university is generous with their financial aid, making it very affordable for me to attend. Also, the campus is overflowing with school spirit. There are many different types of organizations or extracurricular activities to get involved in. Lastly, top companies are on campus during fall and spring semesters, conducting interviews for any internships and full-time positions.

After my first year at USC, I interned at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan’s Subaru Telescope in Hilo for the summer. The internship program was through the Akamai Workforce Initiative. For the internship, I built a simulator of a programmable logic controller (PLC), which controls the cooling, heating and defrosting of one of the telescope’s spectrographs. The internship is open to any college student in Hawaii or Hawaii residents studying on the mainland who are pursuing a field in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).