This Filipina Software Engineer and Hardcore Gamer is a Summa Cum Laude

The story of this genius software engineer proves that you can be a hardcore gamer and excel in school at the same time.


They say hardcore gaming and academics don’t mix. It’s either you excel in your academics and fail at gaming, or be a hardcore gamer and sacrifice your academics. This is especially true if you’re a student in the engineering field and this has been the stereotype for quite sometime. However, there have been some students, engineers and other young professionals who are breaking down this stereotype and proving to the whole world that it is indeed possible to excel at both gaming and academics.

Source: Madeleine Montes

Such is the case of Madeleine Montes. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with the course Bachelor of Science in Information Technology from Saint Louis University in the Philippines. During her college years she was able to keep excellent grades, serve as governor at the university’s student council, participated in nationwide academic competitions, and organized several school events–all this while giving time to one of her favorite hobbies–gaming.

“Outside of work, I enjoy gaming a lot. Just ask my neighbors who probably have heard me threaten the TV on more than one occasion.” Madeleine told GineersNow in an e-mail interview. “I love to read sci fi books so I pretty much have a survival plan for any type of apocalypse. I am very fond of all things nerdy. From Star Wars to Superman, I am always up for a spirited discussion.” To top it all off, she also loves hiking and trekking because, according to her “let’s face it, I need something healthy to keep up with all these random obsessions.”

Source: Madeleine Montes

After graduating from the university, she immediately entered the field of Information Technology. She has been working with numerous technologies and has more than 8 years of experience in the field. Today, she is currently working as a Software Engineer in GetWellNetwork, one of the best tech companies for Patient Healthcare in the US.

 

GAMING VS ACADEMICS

Through an e-mail interview, Madeleine shares her story on how she began to love gaming, and some tips on how she was able to balance her academics and her gaming.

Narrate to us your gamer side—how you have come to love playing computer or video games. What game did you love to play in particular during college?

My family has always been into technology when I was growing up. We like to keep up with the trends and advancements made in the field. And gaming provided us a concrete way to experience this progression in technology. Whenever we upgrade from console to console, and I see how much games have evolved over time, it always left me with this awestruck feeling. I can’t help but admire the work put in by different people to make these leaps in computing, engineering, and design possible. As an added bonus, gaming also gave my family a means to bond during the hectic workweek. Even though each of us was always doing our own thing, there is just something universally enjoyable about playing those games. I think my love for gaming, both from a technical and personal standpoint, grew from there.

Aside from the usual fighting games (Mortal Kombat, Tekken), I’m a big fan of action adventure platforming games especially those that involve challenging puzzles. So naturally I gravitated towards games like Tomb Raider, Prince of Persia, and the Portal series to name a few.

Source: Madeleine Montes

How did gaming affect your academics? Was it positive, negative, or both?

Definitely both. Positive because gaming offers a great escape while also stimulating your mind in different ways. Negative because, well let’s just say I’m no stranger to missing some of my morning classes because I got too caught up with a quest the night before.

Do you think playing video games can hinder a student from reaching the top?

I think if it’s not done correctly then yes. But the same can be said with any extracurricular activity, not just gaming in particular.

What practical life/academic skills can one learn when playing video games?

Gaming offers several advantages because of the wide array of genres you can choose from. Like in action adventure games, it is rare that the solution to a challenge is straightforward. It forces you to think outside the box and enhances your problem solving ability. A lot of games also require you to meticulously strategize and plan in order to beat it. And those fighting games aren’t only relaxing, they also improve your hand eye coordination and reaction time.

Source: Madeleine Montes

Despite working full time, do you still take time to play games?

Yes, I find that gaming is a great way to unwind after a particularly stressful work week.

Are you currently applying your gaming skills in your career right now?

Absolutely. As a software engineer, I am often faced with problems that are complex and can seem, on the surface, to not make sense. So in these situations, you have to know how to approach the problem in different ways and not always head on. Designing a system also requires careful planning and anticipation of any future requirements so a lot of strategy goes into that. And I use my super quick gaming reflexes to dodge angry users who seem to be having a bad day and want to take it out on the system.  

Gaming can become addictive when not handled responsibly. This has become the basis for the current stereotype: Video games can hinder one’s education. Please share some tips on how students can balance their academics and passion for gaming.

I think the stereotype that gaming is addictive stems from the fact that we gamers tend to be reward driven and goal focused people. We won’t stop playing until we’ve reached a certain goal and can reap the rewards and recognition from completing that level or challenge. So a great tip I’ve learned is to use that personality trait in my studies. An example is I commit to myself that if I get a solid 2 hours of studying done then, as my reward, I can play for the rest of the night. In this way, I’m so focused on achieving my goal of playing that I don’t mind going through the challenge of studying. This helps me get things done without sacrificing the fun.

What advice can you give to the millennial engineers and gamers who love playing video games?

My advice would be to view life and all its different aspects like you are playing a video game. Approach problems as creatively and patiently as you would any puzzle game that made you wanna tear your hair out. Plan and strategize your decisions as precisely as you would during a raid mission. Be kind and respectful, especially to other people’s moms. And even though sometimes it feels like you are playing life on hard mode and nobody has any walkthroughs, the important thing to remember is never, ever, rage quit.

 

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Cielo Santos

Engineer. Writer. Artist. Gamer. Musician. She dreams of building a time machine and help kittens take over the world. Is secretly the pink power ranger in real life.

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  1. So proud of my alma mater which produced a lot of executives and experts around the world. One of my cohort is now designing plants for palm oil, another designing gas processing units in USA. I myself is now an Vice President of an energy firm exploring for gas in offshore Myanmar. One is a PHD instructor at UP who is becoming an expert on e-waste and is now an expert called by United Nations… Go SLU go!!!

This Filipina Software Engineer and Hardcore Gamer is a Summa Cum Laude

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