Yangyan Dong

BS in Computer Science & Computer Information Systems

Yangyan Dong grew up in China, but decided to move to the United States of America to finish her college education. Dong spent two years as a computer science major in China, but felt as though her education was missing something. Considering her stepfather was currently living in Rochester; she decided to transfer to SUNY Brockport.

“In China, you take the SAT and choose a major that you are practically stuck to,” Dong said. “At Brockport, I felt like I had the freedom to make more choices in my learning.”

The transition to America was far from an easy one for Dong, who knew zero English before transferring colleges. Her father spoke with the Center for Global Education and Engagement. They discussed Brockport and its degree programs. Dong chose to pursue a Computer Science degree, strongly influenced by its ABET accreditation. Dong still had a lot to learn before attending classes, so she opted to spend an entire year at a language school.

“Eventually, I started to dream in English and that was when everything clicked for me,” Dong said. “Now I’ve been here for so long that sometimes when I need to speak Chinese I forget the words.”

While working for The Center for Global Education and Engagement, Dong was introduced to Gian Carlo Cervone, web manager for SUNY Brockport. He quickly offered Dong a student job as part of the WebTek team. WebTek is a small team of students who work on The College’s website assisting with coding, fixing broken links and overall maintenance of the website. After just one year of working together, Cervone promoted Dong to student manager of WebTek.

“Gian Carlo Cervone is my career mentor. He has been there for me every step of the way and never hesitates to help anyone in need,” Dong said. “He’ll sit down with you whenever you need him, offering advice and the opportunity to grow.”

Dong also credits her work ethic to Dr. Sandeep Mitra and Mr. Daniel Rogers of the Computing Science’s department who, through their rigorous curriculum, helped prepare Dong for the real world. She conducted research with Dr. Mehruz Kamal, which later led to her first English publication. Her publication was so successful that Dong was offered the chance to fly to Florida and present her research in front of potential employers in the field.

“The department really pushed me to do things that I never thought I was capable of,” Dong said. “At first, I just wanted to hide behind my computer and code. Now, I have an English publication that I presented in front of a room of people!”

After graduating in 2016, Dong was employed by the College to join its WebTeam, continuing her work as the leader of WebTek.

After a year of employment with Brockport, Dong accepted a job at Gorbel as a software engineer. At Gorbel, Dong spends a lot of time coding and she has opportunities for business trips to China, where she is able to visit her family. While Dong has moved on from Brockport, she will always have a massive amount of respect for its faculty members, her coworkers, and the opportunities that lead her down the path she is now on.

“The people at Brockport are amazing and they are truly there to help you,” Dong said. “Be active, be motivated and they will show you how to reach your goal and ensure you reach them.”

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