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Computer program prepared Melissa Lowther for 'next big thing'

Melissa Lowther

Before finding her calling in software engineering, Melissa Lowther explored a whole range of computer science careers while attending Rogue Community College.

“The multimedia classes covered Web and database development, operating systems, hardware, networking, and software programming, which is what led me to software engineering,” she said. “It’s great for someone who’s seeking to clarify what area to go into.”

“I’m very excited about the future,” Lowther said. “Web development and programming are some of the top jobs in the nation, and there’s a lot of opportunity. The ‘next big thing’ is just around the corner, and I hope to be involved. It’s a really exciting field and the possibilities are enormous.”

Lowther, who graduated from RCC in June with an Associate of Science degree, was named a 2013 Outstanding Computer Science student and was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. She was accepted as a junior at Oregon Tech and is entering the university this fall, majoring in software engineering at OT’s new Wilsonville campus.

Originally from Florida, Lowther’s family moved to Klamath Falls when she was 11. After graduating 10 years ago from Henley High School, she enrolled at RCC.

“But I kind of bounced around,” she said. “I didn’t know what I was doing, and I had no clear goals.” Life for Lowther started to fall into place when she switched from studying marketing at an online university to focusing on computer science at RCC, but it took her a few years to find her calling.

Lowther was employeed full time at Fire Mountain Gems and took online classes from University of Phoenix, earning an associate’s degree in communication and working toward a bachelor’s in marketing. But she missed personal interaction with other students and instructors.

“There’s not really any camaraderie online,” she explained. “A lot of connections and networking can be made on campus. I’ve built a lot of good relationships here,” she explained. “I’ve found my niche.”

She did take a few RCC computer science classes online but said it was different knowing her instructor was available on campus.

“I wouldn’t have had made these connections if not for having real relationship with my instructors,” said Lowther, who praised RCC faculty as caring, expert teachers, advocates and cheerleaders.

“If you want to learn more, there’s always someone who can teach you or show you where to find the answers.”