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Alumni Spotlight: Soleil Oliva


After completing a master’s degree in music and years in the performance world as an opera singer, Soleil Oliva enrolled at Hillsborough Community College in fall 2020 looking for a change, professionally.


Soleil always had an interest in computer science and even started a double major in the field during her undergrad. Due to the effects of COVID-19 on her career in performing, Soleil knew it was time for a pivot. 


After receiving a part-time, remote position with the computer software development company, AppFolio, Inc., she enrolled in HCC’s web development associate in science degree program to enhance her skills in the field while already being in a position to gain hands-on experience. 


A native to Tampa and a University of South Florida alum, Soleil says her decision to enroll at a community college in the area was an easy one. 


“I didn’t want to pay double or even triple at another institution for the same level of education that I knew HCC could give me. Looking back at all my experiences as a student, HCC’s professors have been some of the best teachers I’ve had. To name a few, Dr. Tina Majchrzak and Professor Marcie Yordy really showed they cared about my success and were always available to answer my questions and elaborate on course information. I went out of my way to ask my professors for extra advice on how to be successful in the field, and they all gave me insight on what helped them grow professionally as well.” 


After almost two years with AppFolio, Inc., Soleil has received three promotions and is now working in a full-time, remote engineering position. 


She explains that her success has all been thanks to the classes and projects she completed at HCC. While taking the database-driven web programming (COP 2833) class, led by Dr. Majchrzak, Soleil helped develop HawkHack, a “hackathon” project that will allow students in different technology degree programs to collaborate just as they would on a real professional team. Additionally, before graduating from HCC, she worked on a capstone project website to support communications for HawkHack participants.  


“When it comes to developing software you have UX designers, software engineers, analysts and so many more people who must work together to get a project done for a client. I figured HawkHack would be a perfect way for students to gain real experience.”


Soleil says, “I went back to HCC in the hopes that I would learn enough and have guidance from professors to switch careers. I imagined it was going to take me at least five years to gain enough experience to even think about an intern role as I felt like there are much more qualified candidates in the field. I could never have imagined that I would be able to cross off one of my life goals so soon nor that I would be offered so many advancement opportunities. I have master's and bachelor's degrees in music performance and have spent the last 10 years performing, but all it took was six months at HCC and an AS to really feel successful!”


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