Written by Kathryn Ross
As a child, alumna Erin Morikawa had a strong interest in robotics. Over the course of many robotics competitions, Morikawa soon found that her affinity lay in programming robots rather than building them, and her interest in computer science and mathematics was born. When she got to APU, Morikawa majored in Computer Science and Honors Humanities, and minored in Mathematics. “I felt that computer programming gave me a lot of freedom for trial and error,” said Morikawa, “and opened up many possibilities for what I could accomplish.” Today, Morikawa works as a software engineer at Raytheon Intelligence & Space in El Segundo, CA, where she first started as an undergraduate intern.
“I earned the internship through my department at APU which had been invited to a college hire day at Raytheon,” explained Morikawa. “Without that event, which I actually attended more for experience than an actual offer, I wouldn't be working at Raytheon now. APU’s ECS department helped prepare me both technically and professionally by providing opportunities for interview prep, resume building, and research projects.”
Though she feels she’s found a career field she’s passionate about, Morikawa isn’t quick to call it her “professional calling” at this point. “I’ll be honest,” said Morikawa. “I think ‘finding your professional calling ‘ is not as easy as people make it out to be. I think careers can be fluid and people should be able to pursue many things in life, as is common in my field of work. That being said, my senior capstone project for my Computer Science degree was very exciting for me—I thought that if my job is as exciting, challenging, and rewarding as that project, then I’m so glad to have chosen this career field.”
Since she’s been in the professional world, Morikawa has found just how important her Christian-based education at APU has been for her career. “Being able to talk about faith in the classroom with my professors was such a blessing,” she said. “Many of them impressed upon me the importance of keeping God at the forefront of your life and not letting your career take center stage, which is very common in the tech industry… As I progress in my career, I’ve come to learn the importance of working not for people, but for God. When I focus on God, I am able to get through the long days, give all my effort, and feel satisfied that I serve a God who sees me and is bigger than my job.”
During her undergraduate years, Morikawa took the time to explore and try new things while in undergrad—something she feels helped prepare her for life after college. She notes her most meaningful experience as being her time studying abroad at the University of Oxford England during her junior year. The program, usually most useful for arts and humanities majors, had recently started offering STEM classes. This made it easy for Morikawa to fit the semester abroad into her four-year plan. “I’d always dreamt of visiting,” said Morikawa. “It was incredible to experience the culture there with brilliant students from other Christian universities across the U.S. I studied the works of Homer for my honors humanities major and linear algebra from my computer science major—and it was a dream come true!”
Morikawa also made many strong connections at APU that have helped shape who she is. After graduating in 2020, Morikawa is still in contact with many of her friends from APU, most of whom are current students or alumni from the engineering and computer science department. “We actually began as a book club but it has evolved into weekly virtual hangouts where we support each other in all areas of life—and of course read occasionally!” she noted. Morikawa hopes to keep the connection going herself and is open to returning to APU as a guest speaker or as part of an alumni panel some day soon to share what she’s learned about life post-grad. She offers one piece of advice for now: “Never be afraid to ask questions or admit when you're wrong. It's easy to get caught up in being right all the time, or making everyone think you always know what you're doing. But you'll learn better, quicker, and more thoroughly when you own up to your mistakes and ask for help—this applies to all areas of life.”