Daniel DeLeon and Friends

Daniel De leon

Connections with Classmates Helped this Alumnus Embrace Challenges

When Daniel De Leon began college, he didn’t realize how drastic the adjustment would be. “I felt a mixture of gratitude and culture shock during my first couple days of WOW,” recounts De Leon. “Phrases like ‘college experience’ and ‘greek life’ were being tossed around regularly as I tried to keep up with the hectic pace of college life.”  While processing his new experiences, he and some of his fellow classmates came to realize they had to help their family members navigate the adjustment, as well. “I remember trying to explain to my family the difference between a computer engineer and a Best Buy sales representative,” said De Leon.
But for De Leon, the transition was even more challenging coming in as a transfer student. “At times, I regretted leaving the life I had back home — my family, friends, work, my culture,” said Daniel. However, he found that his culture was the key to opening the door to connections with fellow classmates and other students who were also trying to adjust.  “We came together because of our culture, but we bonded because of our shared struggles,” said De Leon.  “Those strong ties of friendship helped us persevere.” De Leon and his classmates studied together, attended SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers) meetings and a few even shared a residence. “One minute we’re talking about the latest corridos (song) coming out and in the next breath we’re discussing the best FPGA design for our assignment.”
Today, Daniel is a graduate intern at Intel working in artificial intelligence with fellow Cal Poly grads. This fall, he plans to continue his education by attending grad school at Oregon State in computer science with a focus on AI.
“It’s difficult to express how grateful I am for the experience I’ve had in Cal Poly’s computer engineering program. Our success in the industry is the result of our demanding yet fulfilling curriculum, open door policies and hands-on labs that our program offers. It’s instilled in me the desire to welcome discomfort and reject complacency. But most importantly, I appreciate those profound bonds of friendship I was able to forge that gave me the courage to continue on my educational path.”