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Nov. 15, 2022
Coming from the small northwest Missouri town of King City, Maddisyn Combe was afraid she would be overwhelmed if she attended a larger state university. Instead, her decision to attend Northwest Missouri State University afforded her opportunities to gain valuable leadership and profession-based skills that have propelled her into a software engineering career.
Maddisyn Combe graduated from Northwest last May with her bachelor’s degree in computer science with a digital media emphasis. (Photo by Lauren Adams/Northwest Missouri State University)
Combe graduated from Northwest last spring with her bachelor’s degree in computer science with a digital media emphasis. She now works full-time as a software engineer at American Angus Association in St. Joseph, Missouri.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that (Northwest) was where I needed to be,” Combe said. “I feel like I’ve been given the tools to succeed.”
As she began the pursuit of her college degree, Combe was familiar with the Northwest campus through her enrollment in its dual credit programs and her mother who earned a master’s degree from the University.
“A lot of people describe Northwest as being a family and a good environment where professors care about you or you feel like professors care about you,” she said. “That, among other things, is the main reason why I chose Northwest.”
With her interest in technology, Combe chose computer science for her academic path. Through her coursework, she found a niche in web development and declared digital media as an emphasis.
“I’ve always really loved technology and computers, but with creativity and in more of a people-person kind-of-way – because computer people aren’t usually known to be the most social creatures,” she said.
As a freshman, Combe wasted little time getting involved in campus activities outside the School of Computer Science and Information. She joined the Alpha Delta Pi sorority and went on to serve in varied leadership roles, including as vice president of membership development and vice president of community standards with Northwest’s Panhellenic Council. She also became president of Upsilon Pi Epsilon, an honor society for computer science students.
“I’ve created so many relationships with people in my sorority and gained so much leadership experience,” Combe said. “If you told me I’d be a vice president or a president, I would probably have laughed in your face because I was so shy and timid.”
With fond memories of her involvement in theatre productions as a high school student, Combe also was eager to test her skills on Northwest’s stages. After an unsuccessful audition for the Freshman/Transfer Showcase, she persisted and received a small role in “Noises Off” later that fall. She then appeared in “Same Time Last Year” and portrayed Mrs. Peacock in the fast-paced, physically challenging “Clue.”
Before graduating from Northwest, Combe solidified her portfolio as a member of Knacktive, an advanced elective course that replicates the creative demands and team-based atmosphere of a professional, technology-oriented marketing and communication agency. She was the digital manager on the Growing Gold team – an experience that built upon her work with the Bearcat Virtual Agency last year. Combe grew to appreciate working with teams and leaning on other members’ skills to meet client needs.
Still, being a woman in a computer science field dominated by males, Combe says she found strength and additional confidence in the support and leadership demonstrated by female faculty members, including Diana Linville and Dr. Carol Spradling, the former director of the School of Computer Science and Information Systems who retired in 2020.
Combe carries the memory of meeting Spradling during her first year at Northwest. The school director declared her belief in Combe’s abilities and encouraged her to keep going. 
“That has like always stuck with me,” Combe said. “Anytime I’m like, ‘Oh, I can’t do this,’ it’s like, ‘No, Mama Sprad said that I could, so I’m going to.’ Just having encouragement from the very strong and capable women in the department to uplift you, it’s like, ‘OK, I’m doing it for you.’”
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