Alumni Feature on Gene Murray
Current location: Aurora, Colorado
Hometown: New York City, New York
UIS Degree: BS Computer Science 2018
Other degrees: B.A. Earth & Environmental Sciences, Queens College of CUNY and M.A. in Earth & Planetary Sciences, the Johns Hopkins University
Current Career Position
I’m currently a cloud engineer for GTRI’s (now Zivaro’s) U.S. Government client assets. I have a basic security clearance for Federal employees and contractors. My employer is extremely pleased that I am getting a high-quality Computer Science bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois.
What led me to pursue a degree in computer science
I previously was Senior Development Geophysicist, Alaska for BP Exploration (Alaska), Inc. in Anchorage, Alaska. When my son was born, I wanted to settle down and stop moving around North America. I thought Information Technology was a natural extension for a geophysicist, so I left BP and pursued a career in IT. I started taking some programming classes at the local community college and my advisor told me that I could transfer my previous credits and pick up a programming associates degree which is what I did. An online search lead me to the Computer Science bachelor’s degree offered online at UIS. I realized that I could transfer my previous credits to meet the prerequisites, leaving only the departmental requirements. There were two additional selling points: (1) I realized that the program was delivered by the same faculty that taught the on-campus classes, and (2) This high-quality program was also very cost effective. Now, here I am at graduation!
My IT career has spanned both industry and academia. In addition to working as an IT professional, I have also been an adjunct, as well as a full-time, college instructor. I have progressed my career beginning with the Microsoft certifications, then the Cisco certifications (I was a Cisco Certified Academy Instructor), and now the Amazon Web Services (AWS) certifications. I hope soon to achieve my Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification. Most recently, I am part of the team that maintains the FEMA Civil Air Patrol Uploader cloud application. The Civil Air Patrol uses this application to upload the air photos used to evaluate and plan the response to natural disasters such as Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas in 2017. I am proud that my technical work supports the public good.
Highlights of your online degree
While pursuing this Computer Science bachelor’s degree, my wife and I both experienced medical issues. I was in my final two out of three classes, with one left to go when I had to withdraw for medical reasons. Life happens, time passed, and we are now both completely well. One of my UIS instructors, Janis Rose, congratulated me on my new job with GTRI (now Zivaro) on LinkedIn. She said she was very happy to see the career progress of a UIS graduate. I had to tell her that I hadn’t graduated, after all. She immediately told me to contact Ted Mims, the Department Head at the time, who just recently retired. I got in touch with Dr. Mims about re-entering and completing my degree as the deadline for Fall 2018 registration was approaching. I have to say that Dr. Mims moved heaven and earth to facilitate things. I was so thankful for Dr. Mims’ help that I contributed to the Dr. Ted Mims Scholarship Fund. I received a lovely thank you note from Dr. Mims and a call from an appreciative UIS student. This is reflective of my entire experience at UIS. You know, for a bunch of technically minded folks, the Computer Science faculty are also very caring about their students – both high tech and high touch, you might say!
What do you consider most beneficial from your UIS degree?
Professional status and career advancement.
More About Me
- Hobby: Defined-risk options trading using “the greeks:” Delta, Vega, and Theta.
- Interesting fact: I will turn 66 years old on June 7. Still going strong!
- Favorite TV show: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
- Two people who have inspired me: Ayn Rand and Martin Luther.
One last comment
Over several years, my wife and son gave up many hours of spending family time with me so that I could complete this degree. They deserve a great deal of recognition and credit for my success.