Student Profile

Holliday Sims

BS, Computer Science, May 2024

Kemper Lewis, Gov. Hochul and Holliday Sims stand next to each other smiling at the camera.
“Build those connections with your professors– whether you like it or not, those professors are going to notice your face, when you participate, and how you perform. ”
Holliday Sims, undergraduate student
Computer science

What is your hometown and what do you like about it?

I am from Albany, N.Y., and my favorite part about it is Stewart’s Ice Cream Shop. It’s a local thing there, and although I haven’t been there in four years, my favorite is their black raspberry flavor.

What are you involved with at UB, outside of your program?

I am a Women in Science Engineering ambassador. It’s a great network for women to connect with like-minded individuals in STEM, and as a senior, I share my experiences to guide these girls on their path through college. 

In addition to being a Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) ambassador and the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences dean’s assistant, I am also a part of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). The goal of the organization is to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers, and I attended NSBE’s 50th annual conference in Atlanta over spring break.

What are you passionate about?

Increasing the equity and inclusion of underrepresented communities in computer science (CS) is important. Initially, I didn’t realize how much of a factor representation had in course completion and the determination to succeed. When you’re the only person in the room that looks like you, you represent everybody else who looks like you not in the room, and that’s a lot of pressure. Participating in programs like CSTEP gave me access to a network of peers in higher education with a similar background that pushed me to succeed.

What are some your projects and research?

This past summer, I worked with professor Chris Proctor on UB’s pilot launch of their CS teacher preparation program. I completed small projects aimed at aligning student and educator goals and incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into the curriculum. Currently, I am working on a feedback protocol for the teachers that have completed the course and assessing their experiences.

What accomplishment during your time at UB are you most proud of?

I was recognized during Gov. Kathy Hochul’s State of the State address for my research contributing to New York’s new Empire AI project. During my first two years at UB, I worked with professor Kenneth Joseph and completed our project “Using Computational Methods to Provide a Racially Equitable Allocation of Foster Care Services.” I analyzed the allocation of academic support services to African American youth who were aging out of the foster care system and identified the disparities in educational success across different demographics.

What about the possibilities of generative AI most excites you?

I’m excited for how generative AI’s ability to predict future outcomes will affect the child welfare system and social workers. By utilizing AI, social workers can access children's needs, allocate resources, and assign programs more effectively—hopefully, other disciplines can also incorporate this technology. I am also looking forward to how AI will facilitate creativity in the classroom. While it is possible that students will simply treat AI as a tool to quickly get answers, future generations will eventually start to ask deeper questions as to how computer science works and begin to contribute their own ideas.

What are your future plans?

I recently got accepted into UB's doctorate Engineering Education program, where I will be working with professor Adrienne Decker on making CS education more accessible and equitable. In the future, I hope to be part of a team of people working to create the best inclusive CS education possible.

What advice would you give to prospective students considering a major in STEM?

Build those connections with your professors– whether you like it or not, those professors are going to notice your face, when you participate, and how you perform. Also, try to build a community, especially by joining clubs. It’s easy to get burnt out, so taking the time to care for yourself and interacting with others is a great way to stay on top of everything.