Senior Rider Earns Full Ride at Villanova for Software Engineering

Senior Elizabeth O’Hara is heading to Villanova University this fall on a full scholarship to pursue her master’s degree in software engineering.

The ultimate goal of the Computer Science and Graphic Design double major is to emphasize accessibility.

“I want to develop software so that someone with cognitive, motor or visual impairments can use the software and navigate the web successfully,” she says.

O’Hara’s work with Rider’s Unified Sports Club, an organization where students play a variety of sports with Special Olympics athletes, inspired his career goals. She was a member of the club for four years and served as president for two years.

O’Hara is the fifth and last of her siblings to date Rider. She came to college without a computer background. In fact, she originally enrolled as a health science major but decided to pursue her interests in math and design.

“That was really one of the main reasons I chose Rider, the fact that I could customize my education and get both majors there,” she says.

O’Hara credits the faculty, especially Dr. Md Liakat Ali, in the Computer Science program, for helping her build her confidence in the unfamiliar field. As a woman pursuing a career in STEM, she says she has had to learn to accept that failure is part of the process and not a barrier to success.

“I developed my confidence in an area where I was not sure yet,” she says. “Especially with women in STEM or tech related fields, they sometimes lack confidence and don’t always accept failure. With IT and coding, you have to fail. Sometimes a little semicolon is the reason between your code working or your code breaking, and it’s really frustrating. It’s not a major you can be perfect at all the time. Once I got a foothold in the program, I I was really able to blossom after that.

Earnest L. Veasey