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New student on the path to discovery

About 10 years ago, Jacqueline Ali was playing an adventure game for PlayStation 2 called Sly Cooper And The Thievius Raccoonus when she unlocked a secret behind-the-scenes movie about the game. The experience offered her a glimpse into how video games are created and served as inspiration in shaping her interest in computer science.

Ali recently graduated from Clear Brook High School in Friendswood, Texas, and will enroll at Northeastern in the fall. She’s excited to embrace the university’s computer science program and explore the field’s myriad career tracks, from security to web development.

Though she’s interested in game development, Ali offered a thought-provoking comparison to explain why she’s open to exploring other fields. “I like to say it’s like the difference between an artist creating paintings with a brush and the person who creates new tools,” she said. “The concept of exploring areas where the way forward isn’t always clear appealed to me more.”

Ali cites the university’s signature co-op program as one of the top reasons she picked Northeastern.

“The thing I liked most about Northeastern is that it’s really innovative. It does things in a way that some other colleges I looked at don’t,” she said. “Co-op gives you real-world experience that backs up what you’re learning in the classroom.”

Ali was born in Puerto Rico and lived in New Mexico and Louisiana before settling in Texas when she was in fourth grade. She excelled as a high school student, participating in Academic Decathlon and Ocathlon events and taking AP courses in physics, macroeconomics, and English literature and composition.

In the summer of 2012, she was accepted into the Carnegie Mellon National High School Game Academy, a six-week program in which high school students explore the video game industry through a blend of hands-on exercises and classroom instruction.

In Boston, Ali expects to participate in hackathons with her peers. She’s also interested in pursuing global experiences at Northeastern. In fact, the Dialogue of Civilizations program has already caught her eye.

“As time passes, the world gets more connected and cultures get more connected,” she said. “I want to know how to interact with other people and cultures and adapt to places that I’m unfamiliar with.”