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Senior: It’s cool to be a geek

James “Jake” Mc- Graw sees himself as part of a new wave of computer scientists, ones who understand and even embrace pop culture and insist that there are ways to make computers easier to use.

“The kind of beautiful math behind computers is no longer just for geeks,” said McGraw, 22, of New Windsor.

McGraw, who will graduate in May with a bachelor’s in computer science, is the head peer adviser in Watson School Student Services and a former resident of the Computers, Robotics and Engineering hall. He’s also involved with the new campus chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery.

“He’s articulate. He’s intelligent. He’s warm,” said Sharon Santobuono, associate director of Watson School Student Services. “He resolves conflicts. He just goes the extra yard all the time to make peace. I don’t know what I’m going to do when he graduates.”

McGraw often talks with prospective students about the merits of coming to Binghamton. It’s an ironic position for a student who never visited the campus before freshman year. He said he tells students that “people at Binghamton are smart but they’re not cutthroat.”

McGraw was torn between studying art and computer science. He chose computers because he felt that would let him blend his interests in art, science and math. McGraw still values that mix, although he’s also passionate about media bias and environmentalism.

McGraw said he may pursue an MBA, but for now he has set his sights on a job where he can develop easy-touse Web applications. He has already interviewed with Google and Microsoft.

“The computer is the tool,” he said. “The human is not the tool. It is supposed to conform to our needs. The system we have now doesn’t work for everybody. It needs to be changed.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08