A woman and young man wear graduation regalia at an outdoor stadium
Patty Kraft, left, and Tommy Cao celebrating graduation at Petco Park.

Congratulations to Tommy Cao for being named the 2021 Outstanding Graduate in Computer Science! Each outstanding graduate chooses their most influential professor, and Tommy selected CS instructor and undergraduate advisor, Patty Kraft.

Cao reflected on his experience as an undergraduate and the role that Kraft played in his time at SDSU:

Hello, I’m Tommy Cao and after a short three and a half years as an undergraduate student at SDSU, I can say like many students “I don’t know how I did it. I just kept Googling and eventually I got my degree.”

As funny, downplaying or easing as this quote may seem, I consider it beautiful that each question asked on Google reflects a student closing a gap in their knowledge. Eventually this adds up and creates something amazing in the form of a program or, in this case, a Computer Science Degree.

This idea of “Keep Googling” is the key to my and many other students’ success at SDSU.

I am honored to be selected as the Most Outstanding Graduate for the Computer Science Department and even more honored to name Professor Kraft as the Influential Faculty Member. I could say so many amazing things about Professor Kraft, such as sitting in the midday pre-summer heat to attend both me and Sami’s graduation (The 2020 Outstanding Graduate) or the number of fundamentals we as students gain in the 107,108, and 320 course she teaches.

However, the most amazing thing I have to say about Professor Kraft is that she will let a vivid image of the tile floors and the feel of a glossy paint on your back in the hallway of GMCS, live rent free in your mind if you attend her office hours. Me and countless other students who went to Kraft genuinely loved the advice, atmosphere and company she had to offer. Waiting for her to come back to her office in that environment was well worth it.

Phineas and Ferb is one of my favorite TV shows. It was a story about two kids, Phineas and Ferb, a sister
named Candice and their pet, who is a secret agent platypus. What I love is that the show embodies
curiosity and the payoff of unraveling the mystery proposed is immense.

The writers put the question of “What are we going to do today?” at the start of every episode. If Phineas’s idea is wondering what would make a zoo amazing, he and his brother would end up building a yellow monster truck where the trunk is a zoo filled with rainbow blue peacocks.

My curiosity during my time as a student was very similar. I wanted to learn chemistry, took the series and the next thing you know I became a Supplemental Instruction leader for Chem 100 and 200. I discovered my passion for teaching and extended being a leader for Math 254. I then used this experience and leveraged a job as a TA for Alan Riggins in CS237.

In the summers I worked as an afterschool program director and worked in a cafe because I was curious. I wondered and I pursued answers until I eventually stepped into the world of software engineering. Like Phineas, I wake up asking myself, “Tommy, what are we going to do today?”

I would like to thank my friends, brothers, Mom and Dad, Girlfriend, Family, GA, Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V, and Ctrl-Alt-Delete.

Don’t stop Googling.