Joshua Depina ’21 has always had a passion for problem-solving, math, and science. “That’s why I chose to study engineering,” he says. Now entering his senior year, Joshua has been simultaneously serving in the military and pursuing his degree at UMass Dartmouth. As part of his academic experience, he has delved into the real world by completing an internship with Pollak, as well as Dell-EMC workshops geared toward preparing students of color for success in the STEM fields. Joshua, who is focusing his interest on software engineering, credits his family, Dr. Antonio Costa the Chair of the Electrical Engineering Department and his first calculus Professor Adriano Marzullo, for encouraging him to stay focused. “The army also built me into the hard-working, motivated, adaptive student I am today,” he says.
Serving in the military
He is actively serving in the National Guard reserves. “As a 25U Signal Support Systems Specialist for the army, all of my responsibilities were IT-related. Some basic job requirements are the ability to maintain radio systems, terminal devices, troubleshooting support, and providing technical assistance for other computer systems. He has also served as a radio-transmitting officer.
Interning at Pollak
Gaining IT experience in the army proved value when he landed an internship with Pollak, the makers, and actuators for Ford, GM, and Tesla. “I helped create beta testing models alongside engineers who helped me see into my potential future,” he says. “The main takeaway from this experience was really about me finding direction as far as what I wanted in life.”
Networking at Dell EMC
This past spring, DELL EMC offered a variety of workshops in which employees introduced student participants to a wide range of STEM-related job opportunities. The Dell EMC Changing the Faces of Technology STEM Leadership workshop organized by Black History 4 Seasons Co-Chair Peggy Dias (Executive Director of IT Service Assurance for the IT department at UMassD) and Dr. LaSella Hall (Associate Director of the Frederick Douglass Unity House).
“The Dell-EMC workshops related to my studies specifically for software development, database management, and the fundamentals of programming.” Joshua also learned about the power of networking. “Hearing the panelists share their real-life stories and their triumphant experiences built my confidence in knowing that I can and will succeed. I’m convinced that surrounding yourself with leaders who are willing to serve as mentors can help lead to your own personal overall success.”
Outside of the classroom, Joshua has a passion for building community. He serves as a residential assistant (RA) at UMassD where he facilitates different community service projects such as Arnie’s Cupboard – a campus food drive for low-income or struggling students. “The cupboard creates a safe space for students to get necessary supplies, nonperishable food items, and school supplies,” he says, “and everything is donated by faculty or students on campus.” He is also a public relations executive board member for Cape Verdean Student Association (CVSA), which includes maintaining social media accounts, promoting events, and recruiting new members. “The CVSA has taught me time management, networking, and organizational skills,” he says. “These are all part of my role as the public relations chair.”
Given the broad range of experience and interactions he’s had as a student at UMassD, Joshua says, “I’m prepared to succeed in any environment when I graduate next year.”