Thursday, January 4, 2024

Programs, mentors vital to success of UTSA grad Jenelle Millison

Programs, mentors vital to success of UTSA grad Jenelle Millison

MAY 10, 2023 — Jenelle Millison’s time as an undergraduate student at UTSA has done wonders for her, she says.

The Colorado native was initially drawn to UTSA for its reputable cybersecurity program, but a love for data science bloomed when she was invited by Amanda Fernandez to study in the Vision and Artificial Intelligence Lab.

Fernandez, an assistant professor in the UTSA Department of Computer Science, was the first of many women in technology to leave a lasting effect on Millison’s path.

“Looking back, that moment has really led me to where I am,” said the UTSA Honors College student.

“There’s such a great support system here at UTSA. College was something that I didn’t have to do alone.”

After she earns her bachelor’s in computer science with a concentration in data science this month, Millison will join the John Hopkins Applied Physics Lab in Maryland. She’ll be working on artificial intelligence projects with applications to various sectors, including public health.

“There’s such a great support system here at UTSA. College was something that I didn’t have to do alone,” she said. “Classes are an integral part of university, but there are also different clubs, internships and events happening to help you professionally.”

The community of support from professors and organizations led Millison to blossom. She was part of the MATRIX AI Consortium’s inaugural Project Lovelace cohort. Led by Dhireesha Kudithipudi, the McDermott Endowed Chair in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and founding director of MATRIX AI, this mentorship program seeks to increase the representation, participation and entrepreneurial skills of women in technology-focused careers. Students build collaborative mentorship relationships with female AI scientists and are immersed in a rich research environment

As a student, Millison grew alongside the newly minted School of Data Science (SDS), where she helped organize the first-ever Rowdy Datathon. She served in multiple roles, including as vice president and first female president of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) at UTSA. Through the organization, she participated in UTSA’s hackathon, RowdyHacks, an event she was intimated by as a freshman.

“But I was encouraged to sign up and just try by my friend and mentor Anna Arroyo, a UTSA ’21 alumna. That was honestly the greatest thing that I ever could have done,” Millison said. “I found out I was capable of more than I thought I was.”

Explore the academic programs offered by the UTSA School of Data Science.
Learn more about UTSA’s Spring 2023 Commencement ceremonies.

Now, on the cusp of graduation, Millison looks to give others the same support she received as a student.

“I feel that the four years and graduation is really a testament to how much UTSA has helped me grow and succeed. I’ve been fortunate to have received support and pass it on to the next person. That’s what I really hope to do throughout the rest of my career and in my personal life,” Millison said. “I want to help people in the way that I’ve been helped by so many amazing women in tech.”

Ari Castañeda

UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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University of Texas at San Antonio receives ‘transformational’ $40M gift

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