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Posted by Junior Allie Young on November 9, 2016
It's rare to meet a student who has accomplished just one of the many feats that Tremayne Stewart has. While his academic career as a computer engineering student is certainly impressive, what strikes me most about Tremayne is his humble disposition and ability to connect with anyone. From building robots to making music, he puts his soul into everything he does. But in his eyes, he hasn't even scraped the surface of what he wants to do.
Hometown: Queens, N.Y. and Poconos, Pa.
Undergrad major: Computer engineering
Year: Master’s student in electrical and computer engineering
Club/organization involvement: Eta Kappa Nu Engineering Honor Society, Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, 2016-2017 president of the National Society of Black Engineers, Free-Style club, and anything that looks cool on B-Line
Career aspirations: Work at Google, build robots and continue developing apps
Schedule of Tremayne's busiest day:
8 a.m. -- Wake up
8:30-9:30 a.m. -- Class
9:45-10:45 a.m. -- Send emails, get ahead on work and prepare goals for the next few days
10:45 a.m-1 p.m -- Work on app, CConnect
1:10-2:10 p.m. -- Class
2:30-4:30 p.m. -- Lab work and research
5 p.m. -- Make time for health, either go to the gym or play ball
7:30 p.m. -- Write and make music
Somewhere in there, he finds time to eat.
What made you want to study computer engineering?
“A fascination with robots. You know how people get remote control cars for Christmas? When I was younger, I would open them. My dad had a screwdriver, and I would take and open almost anything I could. I would see a little green chip and think, ‘What is that? Why does this thing have one, too?’ I got banned from touching electronics in my house for a while because I was taking everything apart.”
What are you working on now for your master’s degree?
“I made an app called CConnect and it’s built to centralize communication with a nonprofit organization or an on-campus organization. It won the Fall 2014 Hackathon. It was funny because I didn’t go to the Hackathon to go to the Hackathon; I went because I had a math test to study for and I knew there was food there. But I decided to work on something, or maybe I was just procrastinating. I want to take organizations out of using email, out of using 6,000 GroupMe’s, using so many Facebook pages and Instagrams, and put all that information in one place. Then they can focus more on their mission and the people.”
Why does the work you’re doing fascinate you?
“I enjoy the intricacies of it, how the small pieces make something big, how with time we can make a thing do something. That’s the robotics side of things. For me as a person, I enjoy how the human mind translates metaphysical concepts into the real world. How do you bridge that gap? What is life, what is time? Well, what is life and time to a robot?”
Do you have plans for after you graduate?
“I just want to be super productive at as many places that I can. Because you can do all these great things, but if you’re always in a back room somewhere, no one will ever know how great you are when you apply for other things. I also want to travel to learn about other cultures. If I go on a trip, I don’t need to stay at the Ritz Carlton or anything; just give me a cot and I will talk and make it work. I’ll book a one-way ticket and figure it out when I get there.”
What do you do in your free time?
“I really love music and freestyling. I have so many different influences that make it different, I don’t really like to classify myself as a rapper. I used to perform in the city (New York) and in Florida when I lived there there. Now, I love connecting with other students; there are a lot of great musicians on this campus. Writing lyrics is tough because it requires a certain vulnerability. You can’t just write what you think people want to hear.”
How have the many honors associations/clubs you’re a part of helped shape you as a student?
“Academic programs are great resources, but it really depends on the individual and the management to make the most out of it. The National Society of Black Engineers allowed me to gain experience in leading an organization and making teams. I’m very relaxed and open, but you can only do that if you also perform. Don’t squander time. Don’t waste other people’s time who care. It really taught me how to work with people.”
What was speaking at Commencement like for you?
“So my parents always wanted me to go back to school and get my degree, even after I took time off from school and had a salary job. The way I see it, graduation is a milestone for us as students, but it’s not really for us. It’s for your parents and family; it’s for you to show your respect. I thought, How can I make graduation as great as possible? Speak at commencement...and not tell my parents. So they didn’t know anything until I got on stage. One of the reasons why the Commencement speech was so great too was because I used to have a horrible stutter. There was a time period where I stopped talking to people because I felt like there was no point. So I went from the little stuttering boy with braces to getting a standing ovation at my graduation. That was the moment I felt like my parents were really proud of me.”
What is your greatest accomplishment?
“See, that’s hard to answer because I feel like I haven’t done anything yet. I have a high standard for myself. But I guess I would say I’ve become the person I used to wish I could be. I mean, think of a kid with a stutter and braces. I was so introverted and I couldn’t talk to anybody, so I actively worked on that. You know those people that stand up and talk on the subway? That was me. On the way to work I would stand up and say, ‘Excuse me ladies and gentlemen, I hope everyone has a great day. We’re all down here together; don’t forget to smile.” It’s a terrifying feeling because people look at you with death in their eyes. But I would scan the crowd and see one person that just said thank you with their eyes, and it was worth it. I knew if I wanted to become the person I wanted to be, I couldn’t be afraid to do it."
What is your advice for students?
“People are people. Every emotion that you go through--your ups and downs--everyone feels that way, too. People who you would look up to, they were once in your position. They just stuck with it long enough and did something. There’s this fantasy around school that once you get your degree someone will come and get you and you’ll be great. That’s not how it works. School is just a pit stop; it’s not a destination. If you have a genuine interest in something, you have to do it outside of class. You are capable. Just think, you know Bill Nye the Science Guy? If you graduate with a master’s in engineering, you and him have the same education level. Overnight success doesn’t happen--10 years of overnight success does.”
Allie Young is a junior English rhetoric major from Cortland, N.Y. When not singing with her a cappella group, The Binghamtonics, she's either hiking or writing Steve Buscemi fanmail.
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