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Leadership and Preparation

January 2022

Physical and Mathematical Sciences

male student standing in front of building

When Daniel Ekpo became president of the BYU chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery during the COVID-19 pandemic, he learned that being a leader meant being a mentor and a friend. He and his presidency made sure the students felt included despite physical separation.

“When things don’t feel clear and you feel small—smaller than your ambition—and you just don’t feel like you’re going to get there, just keep going until light breaks through from somewhere,” he says.

Ekpo also found that his new leadership skills made him a more effective communicator with fellow researchers and with his lab mentor, Dr. Ryan Farrell. The opportunity to join Farrell’s lab in fall 2020 helped Ekpo discover his potential and prepare for future success, which is paying off.

Ekpo interned at Carnegie Mellon University this summer, where he did research, conducted experiments, and wrote computer code. Thanks to his internship, he says, “I already have an offer to work for Microsoft as a machine learning engineer.”

He is grateful for those who helped him set his sights higher and tells students who are just beginning, “Start where you are and aim high.”