Meet 3M Impact Scholar Tarik Merzkani
December 16, 2022

Tarik Merzkani moved to the United States, from Puerto Cortés, Honduras, with his older brother six years ago. First, they lived in New York—then they landed in Minnesota. “I had heard accounts of the University here in the Twin Cities having tremendous programs for STEM-related fields,” said Merzkani, a 3M Impact Scholar who was keen on pursuing some mix of computer science and physics. Minneapolis and St. Paul were also appealing, he noted, for its diversity of cultures.


Q&A with 3M Impact Scholar Tarik Merzkani, '23

How did you choose your major? 

I have loved the process of problem solving, especially finding efficient and challenging ways to solve a specific problem. I really like using mathematical concepts to find out new things and provide stepping stones for a solution. Both computer science and physics share these features. I took a computer science course during high school, and I found it very fun. My interests in the field include artificial intelligence, machine learning, and their applications in society. Additionally, I really enjoy the process of optimization and using parallel computing to improve existing algorithms. Improving their performance makes a significant difference in solving difficult problems in a way that can be more readily applicable.

What’s it like to be here?

It’s been an amazing experience since the Twin Cities are so diverse. I get to meet a lot of people that have the most unique backgrounds and stories. I have now started to feel pride in my last two years in school here, feeling a sense of community. Being involved as a teaching assistant has really helped and I really feel like I belong in the major. I have met so many wonderful people that I know will get to do great things. I really enjoy being on this journey with them.

What’s been a highlight of the school year so far? 

I have been involved in supporting students through the learning process in some of the computer science classes, as an undergraduate teaching assistant here at the University of Minnesota. This experience has made me realize how much I enjoy talking about computer science concepts. I have also been involved with the Multicultural Center of Academic Excellence, working as an academic consultant tutor—and I am able to support students in the areas of computer science, physics, and mathematics. Additionally, I had the opportunity to go to the football game against Wisconsin with friends. I was able to make some great memories!

How has the 3M Impact Scholarship helped?  

It has tremendously impacted my academic life because it has opened so many doors for me. It’s only driven me to continue studying what I enjoy. It’s also allowed more room for myself to focus more on studies and partake in new experiences by being involved in the community. I’ll be forever grateful for these opportunities. 

What are your future plans? 

After graduation, I plan on continuing my studies in graduate school. My goal is to obtain a master’s degree in computer science—and maybe a Ph.D. later. I also hope to work in the industry and gain experience there.

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