Undergraduate Ecclesia Morain Finding Balance in Pursuit of Entertainment and Academics
If you’ve spent much time in the College of Computing building on the Georgia Institute of Technology campus, you’ve probably come across the polite and chipper voice of fourth-year undergraduate student Ecclesia Morain.
She sits at the front desk, just outside the Dean’s hallway for a couple of hours each day of the week, generously offering information and assistance to college staff and students. Offer a smile, by way of greeting, and she’ll do the same, generally sending you away with a genuine instruction for you to have a great day.
Morain has an eclectic background. The computer science student has a father from Grenada and a mother from Canada. She herself was born in Canada, but lived there for just six short months before landing in Georgia as an infant.
It was a precursor to the variety of interests that have helped influence who she is now. From art and film to video games and computer science, Morain has found balance in academics and extracurricular activities during her time as a student.
Her interest in computer science came relatively early in her youth. She spent a lot of time in middle and early high school splitting her time between video games, television, and academia.
“I invested most of my time in one of those three things,” said Morain, who graduated from Newton High in 2013. “I always have this sort of attachment to the things I invest my time into. At some point in middle school, I gave a little thought to what I wanted to do when I was older.”
Around the same time, her father, who worked as a heating and air technician, would bring assorted gadgets home from work. While they weren’t related to computer science, Morain’s father would have her take them apart and put them together, spurring in interested in how to construct or engineer certain products.
She combined that inclination with her interest in video games.
“I decided that I wanted to be a video game designer,” she said. “But I had no idea what that meant. I love video games and I love technology, so why not do that?”
Eventually that interest broadened into a desire to work in animation, and she, originally, came to Tech to pursue a degree in computational media.
“I had no idea what computer science was,” she said. “There weren’t any classes at my high school for that or anything. I just knew I wanted to do game design or animation.”
Despite applying for computational media, though, she ultimately switched to computer science. She hasn’t looked back since.
Her interests post-graduation have taken on multiple forms since she joined the college. She no longer considers just video game design or animation as her future career path. As a student over the past four years, she has gained new interests that have altered her outlook.
She originally chose the intelligence and media thread, which aligns with animation, but most of the courses she took were related to intelligence or networks, things more concerned with computer architecture, she said.
“Now I’m considering going for a Master’s degree in machine learning,” she said. “I’m here for probably another year, so I’m still just keeping my options open.”
One thing she briefly considered, as well, was combining her background in computer science with an interest in film. She grew up on older films, noting that her favorite performer wasn’t named Ryan Gosling or Leonardo DiCaprio.
“Cary Grant,” she said with a laugh.
For about two and a half years in college, until she quit last year, she was a part of the Tech Effects and Animation (TFX) club, which developed bi-weekly short films. Maybe a minute long at most, the films offered an opportunity for students to learn some of the basics -- modeling, textures, and lighting -- of producing digital effects for video.
She also took part in Gourd Art, which offered artistic training and organized events like Draw-A-Thons for charity. She took AP art in high school, calling it her “tether to reality.”
Now, she’s even tried her hand at learning magic tricks, though she admittedly hasn’t made much progress. She began to learn briefly during her break in summer of 2016, but had to return to school shortly after she began. When she returned home for the holidays in December, she learned that her 15-year-old brother, Eli, had kept up with it and was even performing at parties.
“I need to keep working on the fundamentals to catch up,” she joked.
Her interests are diverse, which make the decision of how to utilize her degree when she graduates next year that much more difficult. She isn’t positive where her education will take her, but she is excited about the possibilities.
“There’s so much you can do in computer science now,” she said. “I’m just trying to find the right place for myself.”