CS Student Awards 2020

Wonseok Seo at F5 Headquarters

2020 Computer Science Student Awards Showcase Academic Excellence and Community Involvement

Written by Brett Prim
Photography by Matt Lipsen
June 26, 2020

Each year, The Department of Computer Science recognizes outstanding graduating students. These awards recognize students who demonstrate Seattle University values of academic excellence, engagement and leadership on campus, and service to the community, and practical learning through internship and research experiences.

We also award the Spirit of CS Award, given to a student nominated by their peers who shows dedication and provides inspiration to others.

Please scroll below and congratulate our 2020 honorees! 


Samantha Fisher: Outstanding Undergraduate Award

Samantha is an incredible student with an impressive 3.994 GPA at graduation, and is a fantastic ambassador for Seattle University outside of the classroom. She is a three-year member and recent co-president of the SU Ethics Bowl team, which during her time has won two regional championships and competed in three national competitions. Samantha also served as a program lead for part of the Seattle University Youth Initiative at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School. Within the College of Science and Engineering, Samantha was a member of the student advisory council as well as acting as a new student mentor for computer science students. Samantha is also an SU Sullivan Scholar, and the recipient of the College of Science and Engineering’s prestigious McNulty Award.

As a student, Samantha completed internships at T-Mobile and on Microsoft’s Education Experiences Team. She is currently employed by Microsoft as a program manager in the Education Experiences Team.


Ben Gruher: Outstanding Undergraduate Award

Ben is an excellent and hard-working student, graduating with a 3.946 GPA in his major. Ben completed  internships with Kaiser Permanente and Paccar/Kenworth during his time at Seattle University, and is currently completing an internship on Amazon’s Solutions Architecture team. Ben is also a Redhawk student-athlete, representing the university for three years on the varsity golf team.

Ben is returning to Seattle University in Fall 2020 for the Master of Science in Computer Science program, with a specialization in Data Science.


Ian Persson: Spirit of CS Award

Ian Persson earned the 2020 Sprit of CS award through his enthusiasm, his passion for learning, and his willingness to help others. Ian is an enthusiastic learner, actively participating in classes and providing support to classmates who struggled with some material.

Ian entered SU as transfer student and immediately involved himself in the campus community. He served as an undergraduate representative in the SU chapter of the Association for Computer Machinery (ACM), where he developed a reputation for volunteering whenever a project or event needed support. Ian is especially recognized for his work on planning and executing SU ACM’s annual programming competition. During SU’s Tech Takeover Week, Ian was on a team of students that learned the Google Cloud software ahead of our Google Cloud Hero event.


Wonseok (Joe) Seo: Outstanding Graduate Award 

Joe (pictured above) graduated with a Master of Science in Computer Science with a perfect 4.0 GPA in Spring 2020. A great example of a student leader in the department, Joe joined Seattle University through the Career Change Certificate in Computer Science Fundamentals program; by the time he graduated, he was a tutor in several introductory CS courses. Joe also participated in departmental research, including a project on health informatics with Prof. Lin Li. This project aims to use state-of-the-art machine learning and data analysis techniques to build models to tackle a range of health issues, from skin cancer detection to asthma prevention. Their skin cancer detection model exceeded the anticipated benchmark scores, and he and Dr. Li are in the process of submitting their results for publication.

Joe co-founded the CyberHawks, a SU’s student organization that explores issues related to IT security. The CyberHawks have brought industry speakers to campus and organized field trips to security conferences and local tech companies like Microsoft and F5. The organization also hosts weekly ethical (“white hat”) hacking meetups when classes are in session. In addition to his activities with the CyberHawks, Joe served as a tutor for several introductory CS courses.


Vilia Wang: Outstanding Graduate Award 

Vilia is an excellent student, a natural leader, and an MSCS graduate with a perfect 4.0 GPA. As a student, Vilia has dedicated her time and efforts to participating in, and in many cases leading, extra-curricular activities and initiatives within the Department of Computer Science. Vilia co-founded CyberHawks, SU’s Security club, with the goal of building a community for students to learn and share security knowledge. She is a member Seattle University Women in Tech group, Seattle’s Women of Security (WoSEC) group, and Women in Information Security (WISP) group, and she participated in the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in 2019.

Vilia helped organize some of her peers into an IASA Software Architecture Competition team in her first year at Seattle University. The team won first place. More recently, Vilia completed an internship with T-Mobile, and is currently set to begin work at SAP Concur with a  job focused on application security.