SPRINGFIELD – Derek Murray, who graduated from the University of Illinois at Springfield in May with a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, has been chosen to represent Illinois at the Cisco Networking Academy10th Anniversary Celebration, which will take place in Washington, DC, in October. Only one Cisco student/alumni is being invited from each state. Murray, from Irving, Illinois, was a student in UIS' Capital Scholars program and graduated with highest honors.
The UIS Computer Science department is a Cisco Regional Networking Academy, serving as the instruction center for local academies at high schools, career centers, community colleges, and universities in central Illinois. Current and former Cisco students will have the opportunity to meet and share personal success stories with company and government officials and with each other at the reception, which will celebrate a decade of "educating the architects of the networked economy."
Murray was also recently notified that he is the recipient of a Cisco 4R Award, made by the academy in four categories – Rigor, Relevance, Relationships, and Results. He is being honored in the "results" category, which recognizes impact in creating opportunities for fellow students and graduates. The award will be presented in a campus ceremony at a later date.
Murray received the invitation to Washington before he heard about the award. "At first I was speechless and thought it was a joke," he said. "I went around asking my professors if it was for real. But about 15 minutes later Ted Mims (chair of UIS' Computer Science department) tracked me down and congratulated me. He'd already been on the phone with people at my workplace and assured me that I'd be able to take time off to attend." In June Murray will begin a position as a statistical modeler systems analyst with State Farm Insurance in Bloomington.
Janis Rose, instructor of Computer Science at UIS, nominated Murray for the 4R award. She observed, "Derek enrolled in my CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) class and set the academic bar for other students. But to his credit, instead of using this to place himself above his classmates he sought to build relationships with them. They saw him as someone who could explain difficult concepts in simple language, and they often asked him to explain what they didn't understand."
Rose also said that Murray and Daniel Collins, another 2007 Computer Science honors graduate, were the first two students from UIS to be admitted into the State Farm Summer Internship Program. Murray describes this program as "a great experience," an "11-week interview" during which interns rotate through various aspects of corporate life, including professional speaking. Both Murray and Collins performed so well in their internships that they were subsequently hired by State Farm.
Typically, Murray is quick to share the credit: "The people at State Farm told us that the UIS computer science program is the highest quality available," he said. "They were especially impressed with the online curriculum." As a result, UIS is now one of only three official providers in Illinois of interns for the State Farm program.
Said Rose, "Derek's outstanding work in this highly competitive program helped pave the way for us to build this relationship with State Farm. Thanks in large part to him, many more UIS students will be able to have this valuable experience."
For more information about Cisco at UIS, go to http://people.uis.edu/tmims1/ciscoacademy/allinfo.htm. More information about UIS' Computer Science program is available at http://csc.uis.edu/.