From the Ballroom to the Computer Lab

Cameron GomkeUniversity of Montana student Cameron Gomke wanted to take jitterbug and swing last semester, but ended up in ballroom dancing. He’s not a dance major or even in the arts – in fact, the tall junior is studying computer science.

It may seem like a surprising choice, but it’s just one of the many academic options available for UM students. With its focus on interdisciplinary education, UM provides a broad base of knowledge in the arts, humanities, sciences and professional skills.

Cameron says computer science has always been a passion of his.

“I really like computers; I don’t know much else.”

He came to UM because the school was the only one in Montana to offer a CS major at the time – and because his parents are both Bobcats, and he felt like going against the grain.

He is from the small, eastern Montana town of Lambert, near Sidney. His father, a civil engineer, works in the energy business. His mother is a long-time employee of Close Up, a national nonprofit that brings student groups to Washington D.C.

He’s received the Mike McGinley Computer Science Scholarship for three years running, along with scholarships awarded by Richland County. These awards make a huge difference in his ability to focus on school, instead of holding down multiple jobs, as many UM students do, or taking out costly loans. Since he started benefiting from scholarship support, his grades have been better, and he feels he’s learning more.

UM has been challenging and eye opening.

“The experience has changed my views on education. In high school, it was all multiple choice. Here, it’s all critical thinking – there’s no multiple choice. I think more critically now about a lot of things in my life.”