Graduating senior Julie Aramouni is setting the bar high for those coming behind her in Palm Beach Atlantic University’s new computer science program.
Aramouni, who is barely 20 years old, will graduate from Palm Beach Atlantic University on Saturday with a double major in computer science and mathematics. She becomes the first student to graduate from the 3-year-old computer science program in PBA’s School of Arts and Sciences, and she has managed to achieve a 3.9 GPA while doing so.
A U.S. citizen who grew up in Lebanon, Aramouni plans to move back to the Middle Eastern nation after graduation. She hopes to attend graduate school at American University of Beirut, and she also is considering a job offer with a telecommunications company.
Aramouni was a teenager when her family fled Lebanon during the country’s 2006 conflict with Israel. When her family moved to Palm Beach County to be near relatives, she found herself attending a new high school where she had to learn a new language.
"I didn’t speak English but I had read it in books," Aramouni recalled. "I always wanted to practice it."
Aramouni had taken enough advanced classes in Lebanon to enable her to to skip a grade when she entered Royal Palm Beach High School. After graduation, she was accepted into Florida Atlantic University’s honors program for engineering.
Then she received a call from a PBA admissions counselor who had visited her high school. At the time, she didn’t know much about PBA, she said.
"I came and I saw the school. My mom and I loved it," Aramouni said.
She enrolled in to PBA in the fall of 2008 and often took on a full class schedule. In the fall of 2010, she asked for and received permission to take a difficult course load of 27 credits, she said.
Her dedication to her studies left an impression on her professors, including Dr. Ken Pembamoto, associate professor of computer science.
"Her greatest challenge has been to overcome the peer pressure of not excelling. She eventually helped other students improve," Dr. Pembamoto said.
"It has been wonderful to have Julie as the torch bearer for the program because she has always set her bar very high. She has been a true portrait of a challenge seeker," he said.
Presently about 15 students are enrolled in the computer science program as their major or minor. The program is a member of the Microsoft Academic Alliance. PBA has previously offered a computer science major through the Rinker School of Business.
Aramouni has served as president of the Computer Science Society and vice president of the PBA’s mathematics honor society. Ultimately she hopes to earn a doctorate and to teach, she said.
She said several faculty members encouraged her during her time at PBA, including Dr. Pembamoto; Dr. Barton Starr, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences; Steve Selby, associate professor of mathematics; and Dr. Tom Fowler, assistant professor of mathematics.
Aramouni said she was happy when she learned that she would be the first graduate of the new program.
"I’m hoping there will be more girls pursuing computer science degrees and math degrees," she said.