Young alumnus reflects on his time at NIU

Alumnus Andrew McComb (2018 BS OMIS) recently sent a letter to the dean and several OMIS professors who impacted his education. We were so moved by his tribute to our college, we are posting his letter in its entirety:

To Whom It May Concern,

My name is Andrew McComb, and I recently graduated Summa Cum Laude from Northern Illinois University. Currently, I am living my dream job as a Data Engineering Consultant at West Monroe Partners in Chicago, IL. I recently had the opportunity to speak to a class of students at Loyola Chicago about the transition from college to career and found myself reflecting on the opportunities provided to me at NIU. Every day, I am able to work in the field I love and apply lessons from the classroom to create real-world value for my clients. The Operations Management and Information Systems Department was truly my home while I was at Northern, but it will stay with me for the rest of my life – both because of the skills I have learned, and because of the connections I have made.

As a transfer student from another 4-year institution, I initially struggled with the transition to NIU. I would like to convey my sincerest thanks to the OMIS department, for quickly addressing those struggles with challenging coursework, brilliant instructors, and a relevant curriculum. I would like to express my gratitude by thanking the members of the faculty which had particularly great impacts on me.

Chang Liu was never my instructor, he was one of my greatest influences in the OMIS field. Soon after transitioning to Northern, I looked to get involved with the department. Dr. Liu’s referral to the OMIS Student Advisory Board quickly plugged me into the culture of the department, the nature of the industry as whole, and allowed great insight into the strategy that exists behind the academics of the department. Additionally, Dr. Liu served as a mentor while I was preparing to host the OMIS award banquet and while I was attending the “Intern of the Year” banquet, providing a stellar example around the decorum of a leader.

OMIS 460 as taught by Dr. Yipeng Liu, was another highlight of my collegiate career. Dr. Liu was able to demystify such complex topics as Internet Layers and Networking through entertaining lectures, relevant lab work, and a memorable case study assignment. Additionally, Dr. Liu took significant time during his office hours to provide clarity around pursing further degrees in the field. After Dr. Liu’s guidance, I am more seriously considering eventually pursuing a masters or PhD – but no matter what, hope to convey my knowledge on to the next generation of businesspeople and technologists.

Dr. Chuck Downing, as my capstone advisor, was the essential link between the world of academia and the working world. He served as my executive sponsor and project manager as I developed a stock recommendation system which functioned across the IS curriculum. His leadership prepared me for the world of consulting in terms of both deliverable creation and dynamic technical problem solving. Dr. Downing was also a personal role model in terms of his tireless contribution to the Department and to his students.

Finally, though I am freshly out of school, the more I look forward in my life the more significant the impact of Dr. Kathleen McFadden becomes. Dr. McFadden’s 442 course provided me with a genuine academic challenge, and exquisitely presented Quality as an academic discipline. Dr. McFadden was passionate and knowledgeable about the field, and was the finest practitioner of Quality in her teaching. Her academic materials were of the highest relevancy and quality, and her passion for research sparked my interest in one day entering academia. Additionally, she served as a trusted advisor to me, serving as a seemingly inexhaustible source of professional and personal guidance during her office hours.

To those listed above, and to all those in the OMIS department who made their impact on me, I am truly thankful. Please do not hesitate to reach out if there is any way I can help further the program as I begin my career.

Go Huskies (and go OMIS),

Andrew McComb

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