Computer science degree boosts Weber County woman’s creativity, confidence

OGDEN, Utah — As a first-generation college student, Gissel Santoyo came to Weber State University a bit timid but left with a computer science degree and newfound confidence. 

“I decided to go to college because my parents are immigrants from Mexico and over there, they didn’t have the opportunities that I did to get an education,” Santoyo said. 

A lifelong Weber County resident, Santoyo said she was always drawn to WSU: “It’s close by, it's affordable and I’d heard really good things about it.” 

She was particularly drawn to the computer science program as a creative outlet. Along with math, Santoyo enjoys drawing, puzzles and all kinds of design. 

“With computer science, you’re creating something, and I like to be creative,” she said. 

The road to graduation wasn’t always smooth, though. Santoyo said she struggled sometimes with mental health, but always had the drive to finish school. 

“I knew it was for my future,” she said. “Even though I failed a couple classes, dropped a couple classes, I kept charging forward. I felt really supported my whole journey and Weber State opened a lot of different doors for me.” 

Santoyo said she got help from supportive professors and advisors who pointed her to opportunities where she could use her talents to serve others.

In summer 2023, she served as a STEM mentor for the WSU PREP program, teaching fundamentals of computer science to students grades 7–9. She also worked jobs on campus, including two semesters as a teaching assistant to Drew Weidman, WSU computer science professor. 

Santoyo earned her degree in April and already has a full-time job — at Weber State. The new graduate works in the Division of Online & Continuing Education as a state authorization coordinator. She said she wants to continue teaching and mentoring whenever possible. 

“It’s important to teach, especially children,” Santoyo said. “Technology is always changing, and we’re gonna need their talent in the future.” 

Even if it’s not computer science, Santoyo said she believes everyone should consider college. 

“Higher education is something that will benefit you, not only in your career, but also personally,” she said. “I became a more confident person.”


Bryan Magaña, public relations director


Bryan Magaña, public relations director