A World of Opportunity
International student ties past experiences with studies at KSU
MARIETTA, Ga. (Dec 10, 2018) — When Kim Hertz arrived at Kennesaw State in 2014, she didn’t know anyone on or off campus. Her lone lifeline was family members who happened to live in the area.
After completing more than three years of service in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), she arrived in Kennesaw intent on experiencing a new lifestyle, as much of her childhood was spent exploring the world from watching World Cup soccer matches in South Korea to walking on sandy beaches in The Bahamas.
“I ended up coming to Georgia one week after I was released from service and enrolled at Kennesaw State as a fun thing to do with my time,” said Hertz, who graduates with a degree in software engineering this week.
She credits a first-year freshman seminar as one of the main reasons she decided to continue on her path toward a degree. The course grouped her with other international students from Sweden, Colombia, Saudi Arabia and beyond, and over time, she formed a bond with her classmates.
“It was amazing to see students who were in the same situation – we were all exploring the United States together,” she said. “I felt like I was a part of a community.”
Not long after dedicating herself to her studies, Hertz learned that the University offered two courses on the Hebrew language. Fluent in Hebrew from her upbringing in Israel, she leapt at the opportunity to tutor other students, and what began as a volunteer position eventually led to a part-time job in the KSU’s Foreign Language Resource Collection, which is housed in the Department of Foreign Languages.
“I always had a passion for teaching people and leading small groups, so I always found a great deal of satisfaction when the students came to me as a source of knowledge,” Hertz said. “When they performed well on a test, we would celebrate together. In a way, I think we impacted each other’s lives.”
Though she originally began pursuing KSU’s business management and computer science programs, the University’s 2015 consolidation with Southern Polytechnic State University opened her eyes to a field that more closely aligned with her interests: software engineering. She switched majors and shortly thereafter was introduced to software engineering professor Paola Spoletini, who would become one of her closest advisors.
Through Spoletini, Hertz learned of KSU’s Accelerated Bachelor’s-Master’s Degree option, which provides qualified undergraduate students the opportunity to begin graduate work in their senior year. This semester, Hertz completed three graduate courses while finishing her undergraduate degree and will be able to earn a master’s degree in just three semesters after walking across the stage during this week’s commencement.
“I don’t plan to stop there,” Hertz added. “I would love to continue on and earn a doctorate degree, and to continue doing my research, which has been a huge part of my experience here.”
Much of her research has been conducted alongside Spoletini, whose interests are primarily focused around requirements engineering, a subset of software engineering that seeks to determine what users expect from a new software product. In August, Hertz was the lone undergraduate student in attendance at the IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference in Banff, Alberta, Canada where she presented the initial findings of one of her research projects.
“I’ve always considered her an exceptional student and an even better human being, and I was proud to see her, an undergraduate student, represent our program so well among a field of doctoral candidates,” said Spoletini.
Closer to home, Hertz was able to apply her studies on a senior capstone project in which she and her classmates aided a local bakery with moving their ordering system to a computer-based system, which they designed. Previously, the bakery had written all orders on paper.
Having spent nearly four years in Georgia, Hertz said that she feels like she is now actively contributing to the campus and the community having connected with KSU faculty and staff, as well as made new friends.
“People always ask me, ‘When are you going back home?’” she said “I tell them, ‘Home is where my suitcase is.’”
– Travis Highfield
Photos by David Caselli
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 35,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university's vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. A Carnegie-designated doctoral institution, it is one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.