Beginning his freshman year, Phelippe Souza-Herod ’21 networked across campus, expanding his skills inside and outside the classroom. The Sarasota Military Academy graduate followed his passion for math and engaged with his professors as mentors. He also invested himself in clubs, programs, and organizations that helped him learn from others and become a better communicator and leader. The computer engineering graduate was an SGA justice and senator, as well as a Presidential Ambassador. And as a member of IEEE, he led workshops to help other students improve their programming skills.
What does earning your degree mean to you?
The phrase I’ve heard is that “the more you know, the more you know that you don’t know.” To me, that definitely holds true. So, this doesn’t mean I’ve learned everything there is to learn. What earning this degree really means to me is that I’ve grown up a lot over the past four years. I’ve gone through a lot of good things and bad things. I’ve made mistakes and I’ve tried to correct them. My university experience to me means that I went through a time of massive growth, and I hope I get to continue that growth into the future.
Why did you choose your major?
When I came to Florida Poly, I was a computer science major because I did some programming in high school. I wanted to make video games, get into virtual reality, something along those lines. As I progressed further, I started to diverge more from math. My thing is that I love math. Math is amazing. They are some of the classes I learned the most in. So, I decided to change to computer engineering mainly because I wanted more math, and I definitely got it.
What was your favorite course and why?
A memorable one was Physics 1 because I absolutely love physics and I enjoyed talking to the professor about calculus and so much more. Another one was Digital Logic Design. It was a very well-structured class, so going through it I felt like I really had a very comprehensive understanding of the material. The professor also had some great career insights. More recently, Digital Signal Processing with Dr. Harish Chintakunta, because he meets the students where they are and then constantly pushes them to become better. Professor Harish really pushed me when I was slacking off at times, so I really appreciate that.
Where did you complete your internship(s) and what did you gain from the experience?
My first internship was between my sophomore and junior year at Badcock Furniture working as a web developer. It was a wonderful experience and it helped me get a second internship working for Deloitte. I was supposed to be a business analyst for them over the summer, but then COVID hit and it was up in the air what was going to happen. Thankfully, the company decided to shift the internship from a 10-week experience to a 2-week seminar-style experience. There were a lot of meetings, networking, and some training. From there, they offered me a job, so that’s where I’ll be going after I graduate. I’ll be a solutions engineering analyst, helping other businesses craft technological solutions from their offices in Atlanta. It’s a huge blessing.
What was your greatest accomplishment at the University?
When I was in the SGA Senate, we had to write a lot of statutes, statutory law that we didn’t have as an association. Other members of SGA and I got together and decided to write the statutory law over several weekends. We debated the role student government should play on campus over very long days, sometimes eight hours on a Saturday. But at the end of it, we had a solid foundation for our student government, and we had a good time doing it.
I also won the Presidential Ambassador’s Mentor of the Year Award in 2020. That was unexpected and really touching.
What did you enjoy most about your time at Florida Poly?
I enjoyed the serendipitous moments the most. The late-night conversations that lasted way too long. I enjoyed the random Starbucks and Taco Bell trips, all the hackathons we decided to go to a day beforehand. I made great friends not because we helped each other in class or because we were study partners, but we became friends because we goofed off together and had fun. I will miss all those moments 100 percent.
How well do you feel Florida Poly prepared you for life after graduation?
When I look back at my degree, I don’t think about the actual material I learned in class. I think more about the feel for whatever field that class was teaching me about. Florida Poly really gave me a broad perspective on engineering. I learned about what the different fields have to offer me and where I might find myself going in the next 10 years. So, I really appreciate Florida Poly for the perspective it gave me.
What advice would you give an incoming freshman?
In your first year, try as many clubs as possible. Go to as many club meetings as possible, and don’t feel like going to a meeting means that you’re fully committing to a club. In your sophomore year, pick one or two clubs and get super invested in them. I think from there, any student can get a very enriching experience. In class, you learn theory and application, but at clubs you have to communicate with other people and figure out what they want. You learn what is valuable to people. Overall, I think it gives you a very well-rounded experience. Not only do you get to flex your technical muscles a little bit, but you get to see what can create value for others.
What are your long-term career goals?
I’m going on a project manager-type path and I’ll see how much I enjoy that. I am a very social person. I like to talk with people. I enjoy code. So, that could be a wonderful career path to go down. I also really love math and programming and just learning for the sake of learning. So, I could see myself going back college and getting a Ph. D. At the end of the day, I see myself doing some sort of teaching when I retire. I want to give back. I think of all the teachers and professors who influenced me and helped create the person I am today. They helped impart the knowledge of engineering, math, and science to me. I want to take that place in the future and be the one imparting that knowledge to other people.
Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of Q&As with some of Florida Poly’s Class of 2021 graduates.
Director of Communications