Theodore "Teddy" McCormick
"Taking part in a community is really important to me, and that's definitely something I've learned how to do here. I've learned to come out of my shell a little bit and really get to know the people around me."
Teddy McCormick was part of the first cohort of HCC students selected for a prestigious STEM Scholarship from the National Science Foundation. He's an engineering/physics major who is hoping one day to use his math and science skills to solve social problems. Last year, he resurrected a languishing Engineering Club and transformed it into a repurposed STEM Club, which was recognized as "Club of the Year," and served as a member of the Student Senate. This year he will represent students on the HCC Board of Trustees. "I'm looking forward to getting to know more people and figuring out how I can best serve them," he says.
Holyoke; formerly of Southwick (graduated from Southwick High School)
Engineering, but I'm switching to physics. Ultimately, I want to focus on demography, the study of populations and how they change over time. The math involved is fairly similar. I like solving problems. I like that mindset. That's why I'm in engineering, cause I like to approach things in a very systematic way and see to it that if something is an issue it doesn't remain an issue. I like to fix things permanently.
Student Senate (2015-2016); Student Trustee (2016-2017 academic year); co-founder and president of reconfigured STEM Club (formerly Engineering Club); summer school teacher, Holyoke YMCA Power Scholars Academy, Peck Elementary School; New Student Orientation Leader (Fall 2015)
Awards & Honors:
National Science Foundation STEM Scholarship; Milton & Raymond Provost Memorial Scholarship (through the HCC Foundation); Holyoke Community College Scholarship; John Rohan Citizenship Award for Outstanding Service on the Student Senate
Favorite Course or Teacher:
It's definitely split. Last semester I had Jay Cameron for Materials Science. That was definitely my favorite class so far. Basically, you explore how everything works on an atomic level and a little bit larger scale than atomic but not much. He really pressed us to apply concepts we learned in a much broader way, rather than the reverse, which I feel happens a lot in engineering. Having a good grasp of things at a small level like that let's you really understand things on a broader scale. My other favorite professor is Jane Vecchio. I've taken Intro to Psych with her, and Personality & Personal Growth. I feel like I learn an exponential amount in her class and I keep it. I hold onto it. And the way that she asks questions and the way she responds in class is really conducive to me understanding the topic. She's very conscious of the way she teaches because she's very familiar with the way people learn, and I think that helps her do a very good job.
What classes are you taking next?
Calculus III, Abnormal Psychology, Mythology, STEM Scholars Seminar, and Self-Defense.
Why did you choose HCC?
My mother and my step-father went to HCC. They both went to Western New England School of Law, and they're both lawyers, so they're both fairly successful. They recommended it, and it was really the thing that I knew, and it was close to home. But I was also thinking a lot about the cost. My first semester I didn't get any financial aid, and it wasn't too unreasonable for me to pay out of pocket, whereas virtually anywhere else it would have been, even the state schools.
What's been your most meaningful experience at HCC?
That would be the STEM Club winning the "Club of the Year" award. Winning "Club of the Year" really resonated with me cause I think that I saw the potential for the club to take a real different direction for engineering majors. There wasn't a lot of diversity up in the Engineering / STEM Club room (Frost 369) and now there's people from all walks of life up in there because I think we've made it a more inviting place to be. A lot of people know each other now; people are less introverted. More people are part of a community that wasn't there before at all. I think that's nice.
What is your favorite thing about HCC?
I think that having people notice when I'm not here and ask me about it is a real beneficial sort of thing, that people are genuinely concerned that really have no reason to be but they're just invested in people who go here. I think that's something you wouldn't get anywhere else, really, not to the degree you get it here. People know who you are here and you're not just a ghost. That's why I liked high school a lot. I felt like I really got to know everyone around me and all my teachers. Now here I know all my professors and I know a lot of the students and I feel like that's helped me a lot just to care about going to school. I've met a lot of people who I wouldn't necessarily meet outside of here. I think that's cool.
What's the biggest challenge you've had to overcome?
When I decided to move out of my parents' house, figuring out the logistics of finding a place to live was kind of tough. But once I figured out where I was living, just getting here was the tough part. I just walk. It's about three miles, so it's like a 45-minutes walk if I'm going slow, 35 minutes if I'm truckin'.
What's the most important thing you've learned at HCC?
Taking part in a community is really important to me, and that's definitely something I've learned how to do here. I've learned to come out of my shell a little bit and really get to know the people around me. Like I don't think I've ever had a really hard time getting to know people but to actually then become part of their lives has been difficult. I think that's something I've learned how to do, to appropriately get myself involved in other people's lives without freaking them out.
Why is education important to you?
I think it goes back to just wanting to understand how things work. I like to really be familiar with things because when you are presented with problems in life they're not always going to be the ones you've dealt with before, and you can't prepare yourself for those sort of problems but you can prepare yourself to deal with new problems by learning something in and out. That's why I like engineering, because a lot of the time you can learn something on a really fundamental level and when you get to new problem you sort of test yourself on what you know. It's really intuitive, and I like that aspect of it. So I feel like education is really the only way for me at least to get new information so I can inform that tangential knowledge and get into situations that are uncomfortable and get out of them successfully.
What are you looking forward to this year at HCC?
Being the Student Trustee is going to be exciting. I'm looking forward to getting to know more people and figuring out what I can do to best serve them. I guess I'm also looking forward to being done with math, for now, done in terms of requirements. I guess I'm looking forward to having a focus too, cause knowing that I want to study demography is finally putting a name on something I've been trying to describe for a while and haven't been able to. I've been telling people I want to basically take an engineering-like notion of solving problems and apply it to people, and I feel like there hasn't really been anything close to that for me until demography. It's been nice that it's been brought to my attention as a thing that exists.
What are your plans after HCC?
I plan to transfer to UMass, hopefully to Commonwealth Honors College, to study demography. I always want to know why things are going on and take it to the next level and see what can be done about it, like solving social problems. Tackling social issues in a way that can be done predictably and responsibly is real important cause the issue I have with politics is that there are a lot of assumptions made without real data to back them up. Some people have really good gut instincts but most people don't, especially in politics, but to have those agendas really get backed up by something I think is important. I'm an emotional person but I think it's important to recognize what is actually going on before you make any final decisions about it.
Any advice for your classmates?
If it ever seems like you don't have what you need to be in school or you don't understand what you're learning in class, ask someone for help.