University of Vermont

cems
College of
Engineering and Mathematical Sciences

Featured Student

Alex Castleton

Alex CastletonWhen the editors of Spire choose the subjects for our "Featured Student" articles, we try to make sure that we represent a range of students: varied academic backgrounds, gender, and students with a variety of interests. For the 8th edition of Spire we are pleased to "raise the curtain" on a Computer Science student with a strong interest in theatre. Ladies and gentlemen, Alex Castleton!

Growing up in the suburbs of New York City, Alex was taken to the theatre often as a child. "But I didn't really consider getting involved until I was in high school," he says. "In 9th grade I auditioned for The Crucible by Arthur Miller and landed the lead role of John Proctor. From then on I really fell in love with theatre, and I was sure I'd found my forte."

Alex Castleton in Kiss Me Kate. Photo: Andy DubackIn addition to his work in the theatre, Alex found time in high school to play basketball and run on the cross-country team. He also started fencing and picked up dancing towards the end of his junior year. At the same time, he maintained an intense academic schedule and took three AP classes in his senior year: biology, physics and calculus BC. "It may be strange to find somebody so enthralled by theatre who is also so interested in science and math," he says, "but that's who I am."

As Alex began to think about college, he narrowed his geographical boundary to the New England area. "What I wanted was a college that was fairly big, that offered a broad range of majors, including theatre, and was not in the middle of nowhere," Alex explains. "The day I visited UVM it was a beautiful spring day and college students were everywhere throwing Frisbees and hanging out on the greens. My tour guide told me that the snows had just melted recently, so everybody was outside. My top three choices were Northeastern University, Emerson College and UVM. I don't regret my choice at all; I love it here."

Alex Castleton in Cabaret. Photo: Andy DubackWhen Alex arrived on campus, he initially decided to major in biology. He was really enthusiastic about it until about halfway through his second semester, when he realized that it just wasn't interesting to him anymore. So during his sophomore year, having no idea where he wanted to head, he took a broad range of classes, including Programming I in Java. By the start of his junior year he had become a full-time Computer Science major.

When asked to identify the Computer Science faculty members who have been most influential to him, Alex is quick to name Dr. Robert Snapp and Dr. Alan Ling. "Last semester I signed up for Computer Graphics with Professor Snapp," Alex says, "and he's the one, ultimately, who really organized my semester-by-semester schedule for me." As for Dr. Ling, "he is probably one of the best professors I have ever had," Alex says. "Last semester I took discrete structures with him and I learned a great deal from his class. This semester I'm taking network security and cryptography and I'm sure I'll learn just as much."

After graduating from UVM, Alex is planning to take a year off to get some work experience before heading to graduate school. In the meantime, he's staying involved with UVM's Theatre Department and will be auditioning for the UVM "One Act Play" series this semester and the major productions that will be taking place next year. He has joined the Fencing Club and the Interpretive Film Suite in Living/Learning.

When pushed a little on his post-graduation plans, Alex is firmly uncommitted. "My career has already evolved several times, and I haven't even graduated yet! To be honest, I still feel new to the Computer Science Department and CEMS and I really have no idea where I'm headed in my field of study. I'm really grateful for the opportunities that UVM has given me, and I'm just going to see where they lead."

To find out more about the Computer Science program at CEMS, visit the Department of Computer Science or contact Jackie Redmond at redmond@cems.uvm.edu.