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Liberal Arts, Perfect Fit

Asir Saeed in a nighttime garden

Asir Saeed ’16 

Dickinson is a long way from Asir Saeed ’16’s home in Dhaka, Bangladesh, but he’s thrived at Dickinson, as a student leader and intern, writing center tutor, service-trip volunteer, first-year coordinator and study-abroad student in Nagoya, Japan. A black belt in karate who also enjoys acting, cooking and playing the guitar, Saeed describes why he was drawn to a computer science major, his meta-study-abroad experience, the app he co-created and why a liberal-arts college is the perfect fit.


Computer science (Japanese minor).

Clubs and organizations:

New Student Programs (student director), Muslim Student Association (treasurer), service trips (student leader); Center for Service, Spirituality and Social Justice (student coordinator), Norman M. Eberly Multilingual Writing Center (tutor of English, Japanese and quantitative reasoning), Office of Admissions (student interviewer), Office of Residential Life & Housing (student intern).


Global Campus Scholarship.

On choosing a major:

I was always interested in [all of] the sciences, but computer science seemed like a field that would allow me explore both my logical and creative sides.

On choosing Dickinson:

The website. Seriously, being an international student, I did not have the option to visit campus, talk to counselors or sit in on a class. My Dickinson experience started with the website. I always knew I wanted to go to a small liberal-arts college, and Dickinson's values resonated with me. So I applied Early Decision.

Most important thing I’ve learned so far:

Learning for the sake of learning. As cliché as that sounds, Dickinson was the first place where I took classes for fun and in different fields. I was completely taken with the liberal arts.

On studying abroad:

I studied abroad in Nagoya, Japan. I went to Japan to study the language and culture, but I got so much more. I made lifelong connections with some amazing people. It just felt right being there.

Post-Dickinson plans:

In the short term, I hope to go back to Japan and work for a few years in the tech field. One semester didn't feel like enough. In the long run, I hope to start a residential liberal-arts college back in Bangladesh, where I'm from. After I retire (this may be in a world of fantasy), I want to teach Japanese literature at the college level.

Favorite book:

Sanshiro by Natsume Soseki.

Favorite movie(s):

The original Star Wars triology.

Favorite place on campus:

Tome Library.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Buffalo wings at the KOVE.

As a kid, I wanted to …

… travel the world (that hasn’t changed).

Little-known hobbies/talents:

I am a second-degree black belt in karate. I also cook and play the guitar, and I love acting.

If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, it would be …

… Audrey Hepburn.

About my internship:

In summer 2013 I worked with two students, Edwin Padilla '16 and Mia Yutong [Shang] '16, to create an app for the Dickinson Farm that would help farmers log data and generate reports from it.

I learned to work as part of a programming team, and how different modules connect to one another, and also how to work with clients. Most importantly, I gained fluency in new programming languages in a few weeks and realized I already had the basics to pick up some more.

About my research:

I have a passion for applied computer sciences. It always fascinates me how I can apply knowledge in my field to solve problems in other fields. But I guess that's what a liberal-arts education does. In summer 2014 I analyzed Pennsylvania water data using data mining algorithms to find a correlation between water quality and fracking activities. Through this [math-research] experience, I learned to work independently and tackle difficult problems with limited guidance. I also learned that I don't like sitting for eight hours at a time in front of a computer, debugging code. I want to be more active in my work.

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Published May 18, 2016