As a freshman in high school, Matthew Sah could already envision himself thriving at UCI. That’s why he didn’t hesitate to accept his offer to become an Anteater when he was recruited to play for the UCI Men’s Tennis team the summer before his senior year.
“I really liked the campus, the location and I knew that the school had strong academics in a lot of areas,” says Sah, who is studying computer science. “Some of my favorite parts about going to UCI are the people, academics, being able to live in Newport with my friends and the food.”
Sah dedicates over 20 hours of his week to athletics, from training to attending team meetings. On top of that, he’s taking difficult computer science classes and excels in his studies – in June 2022, Sah received the Academic Unit Award for having the highest GPA of any student athlete in UCI’s Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS). Sah has also been recognized as a Scholar Athlete by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association since 2020.
He says that staying on top of tennis and school is challenging, but having good time-management skills and work ethic helps.
“I try to start and finish my schoolwork early so that I can get help if any problems come up, and so I can also be a bit more relaxed. I also like to get all of my work done before I go on trips or play matches so that I can stay focused on the matches and spend time with my teammates,” he says.
In addition to playing tennis, Sah has been participating in a fellowship with Make a Play Foundation, which helps prepare underrepresented student athletes for executive careers in various industries. Sah is working on a case study for Kraft Heinz, one of the largest food and beverage companies in North America, alongside student athletes from Stanford, Texas Christian University and UC Berkeley.
Another way Sah is gaining real-world work experience and applying his computer science education is through internships. This past summer, he interned for aerospace and defense company L3Harris Technologies as a full-stack software engineer in their Space and Airborne Systems Segment in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“It was really cool to see the process of how software is developed in a corporate environment and how all of the little pieces come together over months or years to complete large projects. I learned so much during the internship and met a ton of amazing people,” says Sah. “Outside of work, I got to explore Colorado and saw a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, visited the Great Sand Dunes National Park and went camping at Rocky Mountain National Park.”
Now that Sah is back in Irvine, he’s excited to finish his last year of college making memories with his friends and teammates.
“My favorite memory at UCI so far was winning the Big West Conference Championships last season for the first time in 11 years and going on to play in the NCAA tournament,” he says.
He also wants to work toward a few of his goals, such as gaining more skills and knowledge from his courses, securing an internship offer for next summer and winning the Big West Conference Championships again.
“After completing my undergraduate degree, I want to enroll in a professionally oriented master’s program in software engineering, computer science or a related field before entering the workforce. Ideally, I’ll get into a master’s program at UCI and I’ll be able to stay and use my last year of NCAA eligibility to play my last year of college tennis here,” says Sah.
— Karen Phan