As the Fall semester has reached its third week, we thought it is time to introduce you to one of our newest additions. He has been reintroduced to UA Little Rock after graduating and returning to France.
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I often get asked why I chose to leave France, my home country, and move to Little Rock. It seems strange to some people. Why move away from the “European dream” and a less stressful way of life? Not to forget the rich history and beautiful sights! Turns out, these don’t mean much if you don’t feel fulfilled and believe you are not living the life you really want to live.
Before graduating with a Master’s degree from UA Little Rock, I did not have a plan. At that time, I was an exchange student here in Arkansas. The idea was to stay in Little Rock for one semester and then to return to France in order to finish my undergraduate degree at the Université d’Orléans. I had never expected to enjoy my time here as much as I did. The experience motivated me to stay longer. So, after much negotiation, I was allowed to extend my stay for one whole year. Even crazier was getting to go back two more years for my Masters. It was no easy task, but I had made up my mind to return to pursue my studies at UA Little Rock.
It marked the beginning of my most hectic summer. I had enrolled in the program past the due date, was reaching out to every possible faculty member on campus for help and guidance. Nevertheless, I received my visa barely a week before my scheduled flight to the USA from France. Thankfully, I was accepted into the program which would not have been possible without the help from efficient people helping international students at UA Little Rock.
Fast-forward, with my Master’s degree in hand, confident that I was done with school, I did what seemed safe and took a plane back home to look for the ideal job. I was taught that was the whole point of education, after all. Many emails and applications later, I utilized my skills working on accounting software. It was an unfulfilling 9-to-5 job. I wanted to pursue a different path. I don’t regret the experience one bit. I was very happy with the company and the community and have met many great people who taught me a lot. But still, something didn’t feel right. It helped me realize I still had work ahead of me to build the life I truly wanted.
As I shared the idea of coming back to UA Little Rock with the friends I met during my time on campus, they encouraged me to apply to become part of COSMOS and come back as a graduate assistant. After a flight to Little Rock and meeting with Dr. Agarwal, I was in. I still remember how happy and relieved I was just walking out of my interview and receiving my offer letter a few days later. I could actually come back.
As a PhD student at COSMOS, I get to work on cutting-edge technology with people from all over the world and all walks of life while having the freedom to make my own schedule and dedicate time to my education and personal development.
Today, I feel grateful every day simply being here. Even just walking to work. I feel grateful for the opportunity I was given at COSMOS and always look forward to giving back and contributing to the growth of the lab. I often think back on the efforts it took me to get here and I appreciate the simple fact that I was able to do it.
About our COSMOS student blogger:
Thomas graduated from UA Little Rock with an MS degree and is now pursuing his Ph.D. in Information Science. His interests include machine learning and information visualization.