The University of San Francisco’s diverse community welcomes students from all over the world and from many different backgrounds. In this newsletter, we wanted to recognize our amazing transfer community and highlight Computer Science junior, Kevin Beltran. Kevin joined USF’s Department of Computer Science this past fall from the Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL.
Tell us a bit about your yourself, where you were prior to USF, and what you were studying.
Both of my parents immigrated to America and had always emphasized the importance of education. Despite this, upon graduating with my first bachelors in Speech Language Pathology, I enlisted in the US Army. Although my experience there was about as far from one of academic pursuits as one can get, it taught me lessons I still put into practice every single day and allowed me to grow into myself more completely than I otherwise would have. Once out of the military, I knew that I wanted to take on pursuits, more ambitious in nature than I had previously undertaken. While enrolled at FAU in South Florida, I knew that if I wanted to get to where I wanted to go, I would have to travel closer to the epicenter of the tech world. Four short days after finding an acceptance email in my spam folder, and ten days before the start of the fall semester, I packed a duffle bag and backpack full of my belongings and boarded a one-way flight to California.
What inspired you to study Computer Science?
Technology has always been something I’ve been utterly fascinated with. From being a source of puerile enjoyment via playing video games with my brothers, to becoming something allowing more connectivity, convenience, and efficiency to my world. Although I have always been something of a technophile, I was more of a consumer of tech, much too intimidated to ever allow myself the thought of possibly contributing to its advancement. Then one day I bought my first Virtual Reality headset from a Kickstarter campaign started by a young tech enthusiast and tinkerer. That headset was the Oculus DK2, that young tech enthusiast was Palmer Luckey, and that experience was a pivotal moment in my life. Oculus would later be acquired by Facebook for $3 billion, Palmer would be on Forbes’ list, and I would forever be determined to create in this medium and others like it.
How has your transition been to the San Francisco Bay Area?
This is the first time I’ve ever lived in a “City” city and so far, I absolutely love it. There’s so much to do here that the options are sometimes overwhelming. The first thing I did when I stepped foot in San Francisco is immediately embark on my quest to find the best place to eat fried calamari in the city. Much like the Greek tragedy of Sisyphus, I will forever be on this journey. Also, like Sisyphus, I suffered repeatedly by eating calamari in Pier 39. I’d recommend Barrel Head and The Chieftain for some of that fried good stuff. I love the culture here. Not only is it very tech-centric, but it has depth to it that as difficult to articulate, but very noticeable after living in several other cities. There are so many opportunities within the field of tech, and if I had enough free time from exams, I would go to all of them.
Has there been any big surprises about the Bay Area? USF?
This is my first encounter with dependable public transportation and I absolutely love it. I’m not even sure if I still need my car since I almost never use it. I ride the MUNI nearly every day, I’ve rented bikes and scooters, and I enjoy the freedom that comes with feeling untethered to a personal vehicle. There’s always so much within walking distance no matter where you live. I love that the Bay Area is so dog friendly, and it seems like everyone is active.
One of the things I love most about USF is that the classrooms are small and intimate. I actually know my professors and they know me. There so much opportunity for advancement here if you’re willing to work for it.
What are the biggest challenges with being a transfer student? And have there been any unexpected benefits?
Becoming accustomed to the public transportation system was a bit daunting when I first arrived, but it is definitely a worthwhile investment. It has allowed me to venture further out from USF with ease. Since I transferred on such short notice, getting all my credits transferred has been a bit more stressful than it probably would have been had I applied sooner. I’m still waiting for my foreign language credits to transfer (looking at you foreign language department). Aside from that, all the professors and administrators are super helpful and understanding towards transfer students.
You mentioned you encouraged friends to consider USF. Will any be joining you here on campus?
Yes. One of my Army buddies will be transferring here next Fall, and my cousin has already transferred here. I didn’t even have to sell them on the idea too much, because they just saw how well it was going for me and wanted to try it out for themselves. So far, my cousin loves it, and I’m sure my friend will too.
What do you hope to do once you graduate with your BS in Computer Science?
Either pursue a graduate degree, or work for a company heavily invested in virtual/augmented reality. I want to be at the forefront of this technology, and I’d like to work for a company that feels the same way. This is not only a career for me, but a passion. Regardless of whether or not I’m able to work on this technology with a company, I will be working in VR/AR in my spare time.
Anything else you would like to share?
The people of San Francisco are very friendly, and I love it here. If you’re having doubts just schedule a week-long visit. Spend a day at the campus, and spend the rest of the time just walking to places you’d normally go to. Take public transportation to wherever you go. Go to Golden Gate Park, Land’s end, and a rooftop bar. By the end of the week, you’ll know whether or not it’s for you.