ArsDigita University Alumni
Thirty-six students chose to attend ArsDigita University. Backgrounds included medicine, law, journalism, the humanities, social science, mathematics, engineering, and the arts.
The level of prior computer experience varied from almost none to self-taught network administration and professional programming. Age ranged from 22 to 68. The initial female to male ratio was 1 to 5. Two students dropped out, seven finished a substantial portion of the program, and 27 completed all requirements
"I've learned more about things that I wouldn't have studied, because I would have gotten tired, and would not have gotten the feedback and wouldn't have had the camaraderie and team spirit...It's been extraordinary. I've never been surrounded with such a crew."
- Todd Sjoblom, Student
As a native of the Pacific Northwest, I love the outdoors and while studying
for 3 years in France and Switzerland, I became seduced by the wonders of
geology. After three wonderful years of swinging wine glasses and rock
hammers in the Alps, I brought my French bachelor's degree in geology home
so that I could do a Master's degree in geochemistry. Two years on a
stable isotope line taught me that it was really the joy of learning cool
new stuff, understanding how things work and solving problems that
attracted me to science. I realized that there are few better ways to
constantly learn cool new stuff and solve practical problems than to work
in computer science, especially when an opportunity to learn it from some
of the best teachers was available, at ArsDigita University.
Since completing the challanging year at ADU, I have moved back
to the Northwest and am living in Seattle. Unfortunately the tech
market out here is not that
conducive for new entries so I have been using my non-computer
languages (French and German) to pay the bills. In my spare time I am
on "eatingseattle.com", a web community devoted to the culinary
pleasures that can be had in the Seattle area. This community is being
developed on Linux, with an Apache server, and PostgreSQL. Sometime
fall, those of you in Seattle will be able to start discussing your
favorite foods and places to get them. You might learn a few new secret
spots while you are at it!
San Diego, CA
I am a native of Silver Spring, MD. I hold a B.A. in Physics
from Rutgers University, with a minor in Classics. During my
undergraduate years, I worked in the atmospheric physics division at
the Naval Research Laboratory. Since then I have worked in the
biochemistry teaching lab at the University of Chicago. In the past I
have been a performing musician, playing in various clubs around the
D.C. area. Presently my interest has shifted back to languages, and I
am most interested in learning Spanish at the moment.
Donna was born and raised in Wellesley, Massachusetts. However,
she decided to get away from it all and attended college in Washington,
D.C., Munich, Germany, and finally graduated with a B.A. in Germanic
Studies from Boston College. She liked B.C. so much that she decided to
stay there and get a Master's in Linguistics. While studying for her
M.A., she was granted a Fulbright Fellowship to Austria where she
studied at Klagenfurt University and taught EFL at a local college
preparatory school. Donna has worked in the Boston area as an ESL
teacher, a translator and a ballroom dance instructor. For the last two
years she has been employed as the Academic Coordinator of
International Programming at the Boston Kaplan Center. Her hobbies
include skiing, (and now shredding), hiking, biking, gardening (when
she has time), and of course, languages.
After growing up in Oregon and studying Medieval history at Harvard,
Chris bounced around Europe and the Pacific Northwest for a while
chasing terrorists and whales, respectively. ADU returned him to
that happy state of brilliant conviviality known as being a student,
and taught him cool stuff, too. In fact, he loved it so much that
he returned to school yet again, back at Harvard for another round.
This time it was graduate work in computer science, focusing on
probabilistic reasoning and computational linguistics. Such study
prepared him for his current line of work, doing AI research for a
small company in southern California.
Gary Dmytryk comes to ADUni with a background in cultural
anthropology and psychology. He attended Dartmouth so he could ski a
lot, and, after starting as a math major, he graduated with an
interdisciplinary philosophy major. Next, he made the mistake of going
to graduate school. While a student of anthropology and African Studies
at Stanford, two separate dissertation projects had to be cancelled
because of the interference of two civil wars. Nonetheless, he
completed his master's degree in anthropology and also trained in
clinical psychology while waiting for the research visas from Africa
that never arrived. Some years later, though, he managed to con a
California foundation out of a lot of money so he could do some
ethnographic research, this time in peaceful and beautiful northern
Thailand. Upon returning stateside, he has been doing clinical work
with Southeast Asian refugees, and has worked for human rights in
Burma. His inner child, however, is a math nerd, and has led Gary to
enroll here, just down the street from his home in Cambridge .
Bryon originally hails from Erie, Pennsylvania, but has lived in
Pittsburgh for the last ten years or so. He graduated from the
University of Pittsburgh with Bachelors in Philosophy. Bryon
participated in policy debate throughout his academic career, finishing
with a top 25 performance at the 1996 National Debate Tournament. His
band, the Bryon Gill Trio (http://www.geocities.com/bgtrio), will meet
an untimely end when he travels to Boston. Bryon's other interests
include politics, writing, and retro board games.
Jamaica Plain, MA
Born in Ohio and raised in Texas, I graduated from Plano
Senior High School and moved on to Michigan State University where I
received a bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering. After
graduation, I took a job working as a product engineer for a defense
contractor in Redondo Beach, CA. I worked there less than a year before
being downsized; the company never landed the contract they had hired
me, and several other fresh faced engineers, to work on. Rather than
continuing in such a volatile industry, I took a job with a software
company in Waltham, MA. The work was not particularly challenging, so I
spent my spare time working towards a masters in linguistics at Harvard
Extension School. All of that was put on hold while I spent a year at
arsdigita university, which was a fantastic experience.
Now, I am back in the software industry, working again in product
management, but with a much better perspective on the development
process, as well as software technology. Is that what I'm supposed to
Since graduating from high school in 1974, Therese has obtained
B.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering and Materials Science, and a
J.D.(law) degree. Therese is now a partner practicing intellectual
property law with a Boston law firm. A native of Chicago, Therese spent
five years in New York city before moving to Boston.
Her leisure interests include the visual arts -- particulaly ceramics
and painting. She is a pianist, studying with classical pianist Tatyana
Dudochkin, of the New England Conservatory.
Therese has two children, John(13) and Meg(11), and lives in the Back
Bay with her children and spouse, Larry.
Therese's law practice is primarily patent prosecution and litigation
for small to mid-size businesses. She makes oral arguments in and tries
cases before the Federal Courts on behalf of her clients, in addition
to pursuing IP protection for her clients.
Tom Hickerson was born and raised in Texas, but has only
recently came back to the US after working four years in Russia and
Ukraine as a government contractor for the US Information Agency. He
graduated in 1994 with a BA in Russian Language and Literature from the
University of Texas in Austin. Other educational institutions attended
include Bard College in New York state and the Herzen Pedagogical
Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Currently, he is working
as an Associate Developer for e-guana.net, in Cambridge, MA, while
earning his MSCS/MALD at Tufts University. His brushes with celebrity
have included having lunch with Michael Dell, riding in an elevator
with Spike Lee, and shaking the hand of Ethan Hawke.
Watertown, New York
I was born and raised in Watertown, New York. I graduated from
High School in 1982, and then received my undergrad Bachelors in
History (honours - Canadian Spelling) from Queen's university in 1986.
After Queen's I attended a French language and Civilization program at
the Sorbonne in Paris, France.
From 1986-1988 I attended the Royal Military College of Canada, as the
first American civilian to be admitted into their "War Studies"
Master's degree program, receiving my degree in 1991. In 1990, I
entered Law School at Albany Law School of Union University, Albany,New
York. Since graduation in 1993, I was admitted to the bar and have been
practicing Law in Watertown, New York as a partner in the Kinnie Law
Firm. From 1988 -1996 I was involved in retail sales of Computers and
software,and from 1991- 1996 I had a small computer consulting business
as an additional business interest.
I have been involved in and fascinated by computers since 1989. This
program offers me the opportunity to build upon my fascination with
computers, and get a top quality education with the focus and depth I
have always desired.
Samuel J. Klein
Loved every minute.
Anthony Lim graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University
in 1998 with a degree in Human Biology. He spent the following year
studying Mandarin intensively at Qinghua University in Beijing,
fulfilling his lifelong personal dream to learn his native language.
Upon returning to the U.S. after his year abroad, Anthony began working
in Boston as a management consultant for Bain & Company. His work
on a number of healthcare-related cases emphasized the critical role
that the Internet and computer technology will increasingly play in the
health care sector. Inspired to gain a thorough understanding of
computer science prior to pursuing a career in medicine, he will spend
this next year attending ArsDigita University. Originally from San
Diego, CA, Anthony currently lives with his older brother and
sister-in-law in Brookline, MA. His interests include tennis, reading,
dancing, and hiking.
San Francisco, CA
Kevin McCulloch grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and has a BA in religious studies from Haverford College.
He currently lives in San Francisco where he works as a data systems
consultant for nonprofit organizations. He is the facilitator of the Continental Unitarian Universalist Young Adult Network and a volunteer mediator for Community Boards.
Robb is originally from Waynesboro, PA. In 1992 he moved to
Washington D.C.where he studied poetry and literature at The George
Washington University, played in Razor 18 and the jazz trio Julia
Galaxy and met his wife, Jennifer, who convinced him to move to New
York City in 1998. Since graduating from Ars Digita he has been working
as a software developer for the New York Times while Jennifer attends
Film School at Columbia University. His cat Samantha is currently
Originally from Salinas, CA, Greg Oehler moved to the Boston
area in September of 1995 to attend Tufts University. In the fall of
1996 he also began studies at New England Conservatory of Music. Greg
graduated in May 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Tufts
and a Bachelor of Music in jazz composition from NEC. His hobbies
include playing jazz guitar, listening to and analyzing music,
collecting and reading books, and practicing kung fu.
A native of Rochester, NY who has now done time in Virginia, North Dakota, Michigan, and Massachusetts. Seth graduated from the University of Richmond with a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Political Science. At said university, he played on and was captain of their Div. I Water Polo team, which was subsequently abolished. He holds no gripe against the school, which continues to build gorgeous brick buildings while ignoring the abomination that is their web site. They press on heedless of the fact that they will never win a cent by pestering
him monthly with glossy photos of the football team. After graduation,
he quickly came to the realization that the real money was in sponging
off his parents and girlfriend while pursuing a life rich in computer games and java
code. As the pool of gamers who can give him a decent challange
dwindles, Seth prepares to tackle new challanges at one of them job thingies. He recently discovered that the cool people at topcoder.com actually will hook you up with employers (and cash).
Before ADU, Tony fell in with a development tools company
as a consequence of his software infatuation. He found his time there
profitable, but wanted a greater depth of understanding. At ADU he
awakened to the simple patterns which are visible, but only gradually
discernable, in the leaves and branches of real world software
Later, in the aftermath of 9/11, Tony developed software to improve
the security of air force communications, including the authorization
system for two-person key codes used with nuclear armaments.
Recently he has worked on a variety of homespun projects, including
the Godseye Project. Godseye is a geospatial directory, utilizing
interactive satellite imagery to enable individuals to effectively
share knowledge about their neighborhoods. Tony hopes to popularize
"location detailing" as a hobby, akin to grassroots geneaology. He is
concurrently seeking work as a developer.
Jeffrey has spent the past few years as a graduate student in
music composition at the University of Oregon, Eugene, and holds an
undergraduate degree in composition and performance from DePauw
University in Greencatle, IN. In the past few years, he has been a
graduate teaching fellow in music theory and Balinese gamelan, the
principal horn of the University Symphony Orchestra, commissioned to
write a new work for the Eugene Symphony Orchestra, and learning to
write triple invertible counterpoint (among other things). Before
moving away from the Cascades, Jeffrey finished a job as Music Director
for the University Theater's production of Charles Dickens's 'Nicholas
Nickelby,' writing and performing the score. Jeffrey is interested in
Ancient and Medieval History, languages, online gaming, literature and
a number of numbingly tedious other things.
I have an engineering degree from Cornell University and a PH.D
in psychology from U. C. Berkeley. For the past 20 years I have been
teaching psychology, doing research on the perception of objects that
take on distinct multiple appearances and writing on the logic of data
analysis in behavioral research. I am excited about the possibility of
becoming a pioneer in Web-based learning, which I see as the new
frontier in education, through my involvement with ArsDigita.
Drexel Hill, PA
Joe is Joe.
New York, NY
After spending quite an amazing year in Boston at ADU's trial
(and unfortunately final) run, Michael returned to New York. Since that
time he has continued to do web development work (for GVPi) and a little theatrical stage management (his first career).
Todd was born in Seattle. His last name is pronounced Show-blum.
Todd loves languages, and learning (especially science) and got a Ph.D.
in linguistics from MIT in 1980. He has worked with computers before
and after college, having taught himself the subjects he needed. But
this knowledge is not equally deep and well-rounded, and he feels a
year at Ars Digita is a great idea.
I enrolled in ArsDigita University to get the formal training in
math and computer science that I felt I needed to write better code.
Prior to ADU, I designed and built MS-Access databases for small
businesses and non-profits. Before that, I spent several years working
in non-profit administration and fundraising. My BA degree is in
Currently I'm working for SuffixMail,
a startup building a web-based email and channel management system. In
my spare time, I plot ways to make technology accessible to
non-profits. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
For most of the past six years I have been studying mathematics,
first attending Alfred University and then doing two years of graduate
study at Johns Hopkins University. I spent the summer between schools
working for the Forest Service in Santa Fe National Forest. I am happy
to be back in New England where I can get to the White Mountains for
Heather Van Aelst
Heather grew up in State College, PA before attending Oberlin
College. After escaping from Oberlin with an English degree (would you
like fries with that?) she landed at aDUni. Post aDUni, she moved to
New York to work for Voxiva for several months. Now she's back in the Boston area, serving as aDUni Webmaster and job hunting.
Shyam grew up in India and studied medicine in Pondicherry - a small
tropical town in southern India. Subsequently, he studied Physiology
at the University of Illinois and trained as a neurologist at Boston
He then plunged headlong into a year of wierd stuff like math and
programming at ADU. Post-ADU, he is a fellow at the Center for
Biomedical Informatics at the Universty of Pittsburgh and pursuing
a doctoral degree in computer science. One day, all this,
may just help his patients.
New York, NY
I come to Ars Digita from journalism where I was a correspondent
for Reuters news agency, where I covered two wars and three continents
in six years before leaving to start a news agency, Out There News,
with other Reuters colleagues which runs a network of 40 correspondents
around the world.
Why move from reporting from the front line to sitting at a desk
learning to write code? Because the Internet makes it possible not just
to provide bits of information, but whole information systems. To me,
creating Web based information systems is a natural extension of
journalism: giving people information they need, in a form they can
access. This is something I have witnessed in Kosovo and Africa, and I
believe it is only just beginning.
I come from London, England and my first degree was in Classics from
Balliol College Oxford.