Making the Right Decision Leads to a Master’s in Software Development

An Interview with Shawn Daudi, 2020 MIU Graduate

By Christine Albers

In 2014, Shawn Daudi had to decide between a first-class ticket home to Los Angeles or pursuing an education at MIU. Six years later, with a Master’s Degree in Software Development, Shawn knows he made the best decision in his life when he decided to take his education seriously and commit to some hard work. Let’s hear his story!

Christine (CA): How did you hear about MIU, Shawn?

Shawn: My sister, who teaches Transcendental Meditation, tried to convince me to go to MIU, but I wasn’t about to leave Los Angeles and go to the middle of nowhere. I was thinking, LA is where it’s at, but my mom said, “Just go try it out for 6 months and if you don’t like it, I’ll buy you a first-class ticket and you can come home.” So, I thought I would try it for 6 months and go back home. I didn’t think I would ever graduate from college.

When I got here, I was thinking, oh college life, I’ll just relax with my friends and have fun. But one day, after finishing my third year, I was sitting at Caribou Coffee and it hit me, “Am I actually going to get a Bachelor’s degree?” Something shifted inside me. I decided to take my senior year seriously and I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2017.

CA:   Why did you choose the Masters in Software Development?

Shawn: After I graduated with my BA in Business, I realized that being an executive or supervisor is not my thing. I had an interest in computers and thought I might prefer to be the person developing something on the floor. Ironically, after resisting coming to Fairfield, I didn’t want to leave, so when they launched the new Masters in Software Development program, I was all over it.

They say that all the information you need is on the internet, but some people do better in a classroom setting and I’m one of those people. I felt this program was a calling for me. Although I had no background in software development Luke (MSD Director) said I was the perfect candidate and it worked out perfectly.

CA: How did your family feel about the new program?

Shawn: My family was a huge help. Without them, I don’t know what I would have done. My sister introduced me to MIU, my mom encouraged me to go, and my dad was a disciplinarian so he pushed me. His attitude was to work hard and accomplish something. So, in my mind, if it was a challenge, I needed to go for it, and that came from him.

CA: What did you like best about the MSD program?

Shawn: I liked that it was difficult, and challenging. I had lost sight of how to work hard for something, and I discovered the merit of finding yourself through hard work. My dad once told me that when someone earns something, and they know they’ve earned it, that’s the best possible feeling.   With the MSD program, I worked hard and felt I had earned my Master’s degree. It was by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my entire life, but it was worth every single minute. I didn’t think I would finish high school, let alone get a Bachelor’s Degree, so when I got my Master’s Degree it was emotional for me.

CA: Were you able to stay balanced during the 12 months of courses?

Shawn: At the beginning of the program I told myself I would stay up until 2 am every night and study, study, study. After 6 months I realized I needed sleep. Sleep for a programmer is like mental steroids. I learned very quickly to stop at 11 pm or midnight, get some sleep and start again the next morning. The meditation also helped me handle the stress and fatigue.

CA: How do you like the international setting at MIU?

Shawn: It’s great! Before I came to MIU I didn’t know anyone from Africa. Now I have so many Ethiopian friends.  I’ve eaten Ethiopian food; I know a few phrases of Ethiopian and I get along with them so well. It can be a bit scary at first because you don’t know exactly what their culture encompasses. But when you get to know them you realize you have a lot in common. My Ethiopian friends have such a sense of community amongst them and that’s the type of social life that I wish we had more of in the United States. We don’t have it on the level that they do. They are light years ahead of us in this way.

CA: How were the classes? Did you get the knowledge you need to go into the job market?

Shawn: When we finished the course, our professors said, “Now you know the basics and you’re good to go,” but I was nervous. The nature of the computer industry is that there’s so much information that it’s impossible to know it all.  So, I talked to my friends who work in the industry and when they looked at the curriculum they said, “You are way ahead of this.” That was a big relief and boosted my confidence.

CA:  How is the Career Development program working for you?

Shawn: I can’t believe how valuable it is, I didn’t know how great it was until I got into it. The director (Kay Hazen) is absolutely phenomenal. She is such a good coach. If I’m in a weird funk, she just outlines the next steps and I’m back on track.

CA: What do you think of the faculty?  

Shawn: The faculty members are incredible. I think that teaching computer science is an art. There’s a bit of a gray area between teaching and making it so we can understand. It’s hard to zero in on it and they did great because they understood the art of teaching the subject. You can be the most expert developer in the world but not know how to teach, and I made it difficult for them.  I was constantly asking questions and complaining that it was too hard but they put up with me and we’re all buddies.

CA: Would you recommend the MSD program to other students?

Shawn: I absolutely recommend this program. Whenever I have an opportunity to meet a potential student or candidate, I always tell them to check it out. Especially now with the 18-month standard program, it’s easier to learn everything at a comfortable pace. That was a great addition to the program.

For me, enrolling in the MSD program was the best decision I ever made in my life. I love the faculty, and even though it was challenging, I’m proud that I pushed through and got my Master’s in Software Development.

Shawn graduated from the Masters of Software Development program in August 2020 and is currently working as the Slate CRM Administrator for MIU Admissions. He is also the founder of an engineering company, Daudi Dynamics.