• Malvern Madondo

    Malvern Madondo

    Senior
    Harare, Zimbabwe
    Mathematics & Computer Science

    Malvern's Bio:
    I have heard that the average human being uses 10% of their brain's potential. Whether that's true or not, this blog is a mirror of at least part of my brain's functionality and activity. It is an outlet through which I share my experiences and escapades here at CSS. I hope that in between the mixed metaphors and rambling in my posts, you find something valuable. I have an overwhelming interest learning new things and expanding my horizons (which is why I am here). Wait, I just lost my train of thought... Welcome to my 'Pensieve' ~ thinking out loud..

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  • Malvern Madondo

    Senior
    Harare, Zimbabwe
    Mathematics & Computer Science

Semester Retrospective: Academics

[A bit of a long post than normal, but its reflection season, so here goes…]

Last fall, I took the CIS Capstone Project course and learned about the concept of retrospective, in light of project management of course. A Sprint Retrospective is built on the idea that there is always room for improvement in a project, so looking back on how the work was done in a particular time period, we can look ahead and find ways to capitalize on past mistakes and apply the lessons learned in a future or upcoming time period. So this post is in some ways akin to a Sprint Retrospective. Though I will break it down into different segments which I consider part of my overall experience here at CSS.

First up, academics!

As I mentioned, one of the classes I had was the CIS Capstone Project course. I had 4 other classes, namely:

  • Women and Religion – Honors
  • Math Senior Seminar
  • Principles of Analysis I (aka Real Analysis)
  • A History of Christian Thought

As you can probably tell, there was constant weeping and gnashing of teeth, given that I started the semester working 20 hours/week and was trying to organize and run a CodePath Mobile iOS Development course as a facilitator. In addition to that and even worse, I lost my grandfather. Then there is the general college stress, which I often never bother talking about because why fry small fish?

Back to academics…

Starting with the end, I passed all my courses with, eh, flying colours! However, the struggle was real. 100% of the time, over 60% of these courses were demanding and needed my undivided attention, if I didn’t want the academic boat that is GPA not to sink. I have often mumbled to my friends that getting As and all that jazz, is not important, learning is. As guru Ranchoddas Shamaldas Chanchad, or simply Rancho, from one of the best Bollywood movie I ever watched, 3 Idiots, once said and I quote “Follow excellence, and success will chase you, pants down!“. So did I actually learn something? Yes, read my opening sentence if you doubt me. Did I attain excellence? Eh, I don’t have to answer this part. But I did excel and expanded my knowledge in a few areas.

My Women and Religion class was very insightful. It was discussion based and required reading various works and commentaries that made my mind go bananas. I learned about the concept of the “male gaze”, built upon how texts, especially biblical, are interpreted and written mostly in male contexts or from the male point of view. Also learned about the notion of imagery, how we describe God (some authors used G*d) in written, spoken, imagery forms etc. This was also extended and talked about in my History of Christian Thought class, that also inspired great thoughts and ways to understand where Christianity came from and tools to dig further than what is normally fed us in singular texts or accounts.

My Real Analysis was very technical and mathy (you saw that coming, didn’t you?). It’s considered one of the toughest Math courses, but with 4 other students and our genius professor, we ate it for breakfast (my high school English teachers would be smiling ear to ear the way I use these idioms). It wasn’t all rosy though, there were several moments of despair and struggle. The course taught me a lot about proofs, building them and understanding them. It was fascinating to say the least and I enjoyed being a Math major throughout that course. It felt like I was learning cool and secret things that no one else would understand.

Last but not least, my other fall 2018 class was an independent study sort of couse dubbed the Math Senior Seminar. This course involved doing independent research on a topic of interest that involved math, theoretical or applied, writing about it and finally presenting it to the Math faculty and other students. Naturally, I picked something at the intersection of Math and Computer Science and decided to explore the foundations of Machine Learning, a booming field in computing whose roots go deep in mathematics. It was a fairly simple project, but involved extensive reading of papers and books and watching videos, following tutorials, you name it. I developed some neat research skills while doing my project and learned a lot about the math behind Machine Learning, well enough to present it to a decent sized audience for 20 mins or so.

That’s all folks… for now!

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