20170910_111315_ResizeMy name is Melissa Dagley and I have a masters in Computer Science from the University of Texas at Dallas, and a bachelors in Computer Science from Texas A&M Commerce.

“Since high school, my dream has always been to become a web developer.”

I started out making personal websites using WYSIWYG type website editors in 8th grade, and took my first web programming class in 9th grade. Back then, all I knew was basic html and everything was laid out using tables. While the final products were certainly far from perfect, this sparked an interest in me, and my goal from that day was to design web pages for a living. My school did not offer any other web programming classes, so instead I moved on to AP computer science, which taught basic computer science concepts using Java. I was not nearly as enthralled with Java, maybe because we were only developing text-based programs.

When I graduated high school I still really wanted to become a web developer, but college programs for web development didn’t really exist then like they do now. I started out going to Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design for Graphic Design. I learned a ton about visual design, typography, and layout, as well as how to use many of the programs in the Adobe Creative Suit, including Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. I also took a couple of classes that included learning about web design, but they were pretty basic, just HTML and CSS. I did learn how to use DIVs for layout, but I really wanted to learn more.

“I had one teacher that told us just to copy JavaScript code for our pages and not try to change anything because it was, ‘way too complicated for us to understand’.”

This did not sit well with me because I am the kind of person who wants to learn everything I can when it comes to a subject I am interested in. I felt like I would never get where I wanted to be completing my degree at this school, and I really wanted to delve deeper into the coding side of things, not just the design.

With this new course in mind I decided to change my major to Computer Science. This still wasn’t a perfect fit, but coupled with my design background I felt confident that I could learn what I needed to become a successful web developer. In my undergrad I learned about relational databases, JavaScript, PHP, MySQL, and of course many fundamental computer science skills. In my masters program I focused on interactive computing, which led to many classes about the way users interact with programs, whether it is through the web, mobile devices, or even virtual reality. I strengthened my web programming skills, learning better design practice, more advanced JavaScript, as well as jQuery and ajax, and I learned how to make more responsive web pages. I also gained deeper knowledge on relational databases as well as some alternative types of databases that can be used on the web. It has been a long journey, but I feel prepared to take all of the knowledge that I have been absorbing throughout my life and put it to use developing beautiful web pages and user experiences.