by Bryan Lindenberger

Mandi Matchett did not plan to follow in her mother’s footsteps. While she has always been close to her mom, JoBeth Matchett, their career goals seemed worlds apart.

JoBeth and Mandi Matchett“I wanted to be an artist,” Mandi said. A Carrollton native, she changed her undergraduate major several times in pursuit of her dreams, graduating from the University of West Georgia summa cum laude in 2012. She had earned a bachelor’s degree in global studies with a concentration in German.

JoBeth’s path could not have seemed more different – at least on the surface. She graduated from UWG as an adult learner with a master’s degree in applied computer science in the early 2000s. Today, she serves as a database administrator at Carrollton-based Systems and Methods Inc. (SMI).

But JoBeth’s path to computer science was not a straight line. She found herself struggling to make use of her undergraduate degree. Working at the University of Florida, she decided to return to college in pursuit of a computer science degree.

“The UWG master’s degree in applied computer science didn’t require a background in calculus,” JoBeth said.

From her exploration of this degree path, she didn’t need a concentrated effort in math for a career in programming and database administration.

“The program was specifically designed for people who were changing careers. I could go straight into the program without the preparatory work,” she said. “I thought to myself, ‘this is perfect.’ ”

Like her mother, before returning to UWG, Mandi found herself struggling to find emotionally gratifying and financially rewarding work related to her degree. She, too, saw an opportunity in the master’s in applied computer science program. She returned to UWG in 2016.

“My mom had done it, and she was successful,” Mandi said. “Computer-related work really opens up career opportunities.”

Mandi found she loved computers. The biggest initial challenge was using a different part of her brain, the part adept at logic. But as she immersed herself in the work and became successful, she soon mentored other students as a graduate assistant.

“Her growth was evident in her second year as she guided first year students,” said Dr. Adel Abunawass, chair and professor of computer science. “It was a pleasure to observe Mandi’s excellent progress and her contributions to her fellow students.”

The master’s program focuses on applied knowledge and skills in computer science and information technology. Administered online, it is ranked nationally by the U.S. News & World Report as one of the Best Online Graduate Computer and Information Technology programs.

With such opportunities for achievement, Mandi soon deepened her experiential learning opportunities through internship. But it wasn’t just any internship that caught her eye. Mandi again followed in her mother’s footsteps.

She interned at SMI with her mother as her supervisor.

“SMI brought me in to work in database administration,” Mandi said.

Since JoBeth works remotely, Mandi joined her in working from home after a few weeks of office training.

“We’ve always gotten along great,” Mandi said. “I love working with my mother.”

Mandi already has a job in her field too. Even before earning her master’s degree in July, she has started working for Supply.com.

“I could not have done it without the training and guidance of computer science professors such as Dr. Michael Orsega and Dr. Li Yang,” Mandi said. “The faculty support is great. I learned a great deal of all of my instructors.

Course offerings in the master’s of applied computer science program include web technologies, program construction, software development, database systems and system and network administration. It also provides project experiences designed to integrate knowledge and skills across courses with emphasis on teamwork and professional practices.

For more information about computer science at UWG, email cs@westga.edu or call 678-839-6485.

Posted on July 17, 2018