Florida Polytechnic University senior expands horizons with Canadian Fulbright fellowship

Dec 05, 2019
Florida Polytechnic University senior expands horizons with Canadian Fulbright fellowship
Florida Polytechnic University senior Celeste Ramirez is a Killam Fellow studying at the University of Western Ontario this semester.

The road to a career in video game design and programming winds through snowy Canada for one Florida Polytechnic University senior.

Celeste Ramirez is studying at the University of Western Ontario this semester through the Killam Fellowship Program, which is administered by Fulbright Canada.

“One of the best things about the Fulbright Program is the opportunity to connect with people and understand a different way of life while being part of a family of scholars,” Ramirez said.

She is studying computer science and video game development at the Canadian university while experiencing an educational and living environment unlike any she has known.

Ramirez peeked out the window one morning this fall and was awed to see the ground blanketed in soft, white snow for the first time in her life.

“I jumped up and got dressed really quick and frolicked in the snow for like 30 minutes before I couldn’t feel my hands,” Ramirez said, laughing. “It was kind of magical. These snowflakes were falling from the sky and it was cold, but that didn’t even register.”

Ramirez said Florida Poly prepared her well for the experience of immersing herself into the tough studies at the University of Western Ontario.

“It gave me a good foundation and I felt confident I could do this,” she said. “I’m in a course called Game Engine Development based on taking game engine theory apart from the ground up and we’re working with an engine called Unity, which is an engine Florida Poly also focuses on. It’s pretty rigorous.”

The fellowship experience wraps up her coursework toward a degree in computer science at Florida Poly with a concentration in game development and simulation. Ramirez will finish her studies this month and graduate alongside the rest of the Florida Poly class of 2020 in May.

However, she doesn’t have to wait until then to begin her career.

Ramirez will start working as a programmer at Steamroller Studios in Mount Dora, Florida, just a few minutes away from her hometown, when she returns from Canada at the end of December. She previously completed an internship at the full-service programming, concept art, and animation studio.

“On the last day of my internship they said, ‘We don’t want you to drop out of school, so finish and work part-time and when you’re finished, we’ll bring you on full-time,’” Ramirez said.

The experience as a Killam Fellow living in Canada has provided Ramirez with the confidence to succeed in her new position and in life.

“Before this, I’d never been away from home for longer than 10 days at a time, and now I can say that I’ve studied at a university in a different country and I succeeded,” she said.

Lydia Guzman
Director of Communications