Math, CS major finds balance between creativity, logic

Geigh Zollicoffer

Geigh Zollicoffer doesn’t settle.

When the computer science major saw a need for a new scheduling program for teaching assistants, he made one. When he saw that upper-level mathematics could help him solve more problems in his CS courses, he added a mathematics major.

“Start learning on your own time, and don’t just settle for the knowledge you learned in class,” advises Zollicoffer, now a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “It is important to be passionate so that things never become a chore - with chores, you lose the aspect of curiosity.”

Zollicoffer’s passion for computer science is what initially motivated him to seek direction from his adviser about potential coding projects he could work on, and it is this same passion that inspired him to create a scheduling program for TAs to better meet students’ needs. Though there was an existing framework for the program, Zollicoffer decided to code the entire program from scratch.

“I want to be efficient and fluent in all stages of app development, and I wanted the experience of building something from the ground up in order to better prepare myself for the workforce,” he said.

Zollicoffer first found his place on campus within computer science when he became a TA for Intro to Coding and started making connections with the other TAs and students. Becoming a dual major in mathematics was a natural progression for Zollicoffer.

“The problems got more complex as time went on, and I decided to become a math major because I noticed a lot of the computer science problems could be solved using mathematical equivalencies,” he said.

Describing himself as a creative student with a proclivity for problem-solving, Zollicoffer also has a passion for music. His musical background led him to minor in music and serves as a creative outlet for him.

“You learn all the rules of music so you can end up breaking them,” he said.

However, studying computer science has helped him ground his creative thinking through logic. By combining his passions for math, computer science, and music, he said he has a foundation that he can pull from to “create new solutions.”

Zollicoffer grew up in Lincoln, and after he graduated high school, his family moved to Colorado. Though his family still shared in his collegiate endeavors, their physical absence made the transition from high school to college difficult for him.

“It was pretty hard. I was getting used to living alone, struggling with feelings of isolation and trying to find myself,” he said.

Zollicoffer is a First-Generation Student and said he appreciates that his college experience is a shared journey for his family, too.

“College is kind of a mutual learning experience for me and my family,” he said of his past four years. “You leave your parents, but they’re not actually ever gone, because they’re learning with you. They’re trying to figure out what they should be doing as college parents.”

- Gabrielle Cottraux, UNL CSMCE student writer