Future video game programmer ready to make her markSedinam Gadzekpo | Computer Science, Undergraduate | Department of Computer & Information Science As an elementary school student growing up in Ghana, Sedinam Gadzekpo remembers dreaming of one day becoming a police officer.
Today, she still hopes to protect people and eliminate the bad guys, only now it’s in the virtual world she creates as a video game developer.
Gadzekpo, a computer and information science (CIS) major and self-described video game junkie, came to the School of Science at IUPUI in 2010. She didn’t know anyone and was unsure what to expect. She had “zero knowledge” of computer programming and only wanted to find a way to explore her love of computers and video games.
Two years later, “I feel I am very strong as a programmer. Now I feel like I can play with the big boys,” she said, referring to the independent game developers who are driving the video game industry.
She was born in Indianapolis and moved to her parent’s homeland of Ghana when she was 4 years old. When it came time to chart her college path, IUPUI became an option because of her previous connection to the area.
“It was a big transition for me coming to IUPUI. Luckily, I was able to live in Ball Residence Hall, and that gave me a lot of freedom and was a great experience,” she recalled. “The doors to rooms were always open at Ball, and it allowed me to get connected to people on campus.”
Student groups also helped her acclimate to life away from her family. She participates in The Gamers Guild of IUPUI, the African Student Association, the School of Science Undergraduate Student Council and the Computer Science Club. Her younger sister plans to apply to IUPUI in the fall of 2013.
Gadzekpo, who will graduate in May 2014, also credits the accessible CIS faculty and helpful classmates for playing a large role in her growth and success. The real key, however, is changing the way she approached her courses and her image of computer science.
“People have this view that computer science is only for white males, these geeky people who stare at a computer all day,” she said. “It’s really more about being able to sit down and figure out how something works. It’s not about computing. It’s not just learning to program. It’s about thinking and solving problems.”
An avid fan of game classics like The Legend of Zelda and Pokemon, Gadzekpo envisions creating the next great role-playing or fighting game. She smiles at the thought of kids putting posters on their bedroom wall of one of her games, just as she did as a child with her favorites.
“I’ve had at least 10 friends say they want a copy of my first video game. Now I tell them to get in line,” she said.