On September 29, Dr. Antonio Siochi,who primarily teaches data structures & algorithms, computer science & theology led last week’s Tuesday Tea discussion and shared experiences from his cultural heritage with students and faculty. Dr. Siochi is from the Philippines, and attended the same school, elementary through high school. He said his experiences throughout school shaped who he is today. He talked of being pushed by his teachers and consistently held to a higher expectation of learning. Students were given problems and expected to solve them. Also expected was a high level of respect for elders and superiors. It was in the Philippines at the Ateneo de Manila University that Dr. Siochi got his B.S. in Chemistry. Soon after, he came to Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VT) to study computer science. Unfortunately, computer science was not a field available to study in the Philippines at the time. Dr. Siochi’s parents had come to VT for grad school, so he followed in their footsteps and got both his M.S. and Ph. D. in Computer Science and Applications at VT.
Dr. Siochi began teaching at Christopher Newport College in 1990. Here he has pursued researching topics he is interested in including making unit testing easier for students, using computer science to make teaching better, and generally making the user experience better. Currently, he is working with a graduate student on developing a way for students to not have to write the code for J-unit tests themselves.
Dr. Siochi found his passion for computer science when he realized, “this makes sense to me.” During his childhood he tinkered with a computer kit, but could not formally learn computer science until he reached VT. The path of academia “feels like what I was built for,” reported Dr. Siochi. He said the most rewarding part of teaching is “seeing the lightbulb go off” when a student understands something. Keys to success according to Dr. Siochi include trying to discover “who you’re supposed to be” and “playing to your strengths rather than trying to force something.”
When asked about his culture, Dr. Siochi was quick to talk about the common greeting. In the Philippines, people ask “Have you eaten yet?” rather than “How are you?” He also described a few of the tasty dishes he misses like boiled beef. Dr. Siochi also stated that if you ever visit the Philippines, you have to “be brave and sample the street food.” He also talked fondly of his Catholic faith, something very important to him.
Thank you to Dr. Antonio Siochi for your inspiring wisdom and reminding us that no matter where you come from, there is always something to be discovered and explored.