ESU Computer Science Major Ready for Life After College
Posted by: Elizabeth Richardson on May 2, 2023, No Comments
As a high school student, Elijah Toby had his sights set on attending a big-city college. The fast-paced lifestyle and exciting atmosphere of an urban area appealed to him.
He changed his mind the first time he visited East Stroudsburg University.
“I had my first visit and started to realize I might not be that ‘big city’ type of guy,” he recalls. “I liked the smaller campus and nice community. I just felt right—it felt like home. The campus was big enough where there was a lot to do, but small enough that it feels like family. You really get to know the professors and other students. It made my choice easier.”
A computer science major wrapping up his senior year at ESU, Toby, of Folcroft, Pa., is planning his next chapter. He has accepted a job offer with a technology company in Arizona. He jokingly said it will take time to adjust to the weather out West after years of living in Pennsylvania. In the long-term, Toby plans to return to his native Liberia and kickstart that country’s tech industry. “Liberia doesn’t have much of a foundation in this industry. Knowing what I know, I feel it’s right to give back to the people who have given me so much,” he explains.
Looking back on his years at ESU, getting involved in various campus clubs and organizations made a big difference in his college experience. “After my first semester, I still wasn’t sure if I liked the Poconos,” he admits. “I gave it a chance. I got more involved.” Among other activities, Toby was a peer mentor/peer educator, which helped him develop critical leadership skills. Joining the African Students Association gave him the opportunity to discuss issues affecting the continent. “Being able to talk to different people who don’t necessarily share the same belief system, we find common ground and understanding. I am probably better prepared for life after college than ever before.” He adds, “ESU has tried to bridge the gap between departments and student/faculty to network and communicate with people. It has definitely helped my college experience in general.” He was also a member of the University Honors Program, Black Student Union, Men of Color Alliance, and the Computer Science Organization.
Toby was one of the recipients of this year’s ESU Boddie Scholarship. To apply, Toby had to compose an essay describing his commitment to social justice through community and university involvement. “It definitely made things a lot easier financially,” he said. “I had some grants and scholarships when I started at ESU, but they weren’t enough to cover all the costs. I was told my parents would have to take out a Parents Plus loan.” As both of his parents work two jobs to support Toby and his siblings, he didn’t want to add to their financial burden. “The scholarships helped lower my stress so I could focus on my academics and do what I have to do. They helped me in many ways.”
Toby offers this advice to current and future ESU students: “Get involved, get involved, get involved! It opened so many doors for me. I’ve met amazing faculty members, community leaders, and businesspeople who I otherwise wouldn’t have known. Being involved has given me skill sets I probably wouldn’t have gotten by reading a book or studying in the library. College is more than going to class and spending time in your room—it’s supposed to teach you about the real world. It’s definitely given me the skill sets to navigate certain situations.”