BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— Illinois Wesleyan University student and U.S. Army veteran Timothy
Leiser ’16 is one of only eight students nationwide to be awarded a Google SVA Scholarships.
The $10,000 scholarship sponsored by Google and Student Veterans of America (SVA)
is awarded to student veterans pursuing a degree in computer science. The honor includes
an invitation to attend Google’s Summer Scholar’s Retreat in June.
Google and the nonprofit SVA created the scholarship in 2012 to support the SVA’s
mission of providing veterans with the resources, support and advocacy needed to succeed
in higher education and throughout their careers. A computer science and sociology double major at Illinois Wesleyan, Leiser will use his scholarship to attend graduate
school next year to pursue an MBA.
A native of Mundelein, Ill., Leiser said he was in the last days of sixth grade when
Deep Blue, IBM’s chess-playing computer, squared off against then-world champion Garry
Kasparov. Viewing the match on TV with his father, Leiser watched the computer defeat
Kasparov. “From that point on, nothing interested me more than computers,” Leiser
said. “Other kids my age went to summer camp, but I went to technology camp.”
Leiser first enrolled at Augustana College in 2007, but financial hardship caused
him to withdraw. He then enlisted in the U.S. Army and eventually served two tours
in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. “Though my career was much different from my dream
of being a software developer for Microsoft or Square Enix, I never once forgot about
it,” he said. Discharged from the U.S. Army in 2013, Leiser enrolled at Illinois Wesleyan
on the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. He has thrived at the University, working as a resident
advisor where he developed programs based on his residents’ interests, backgrounds
and academic majors. He’s also worked part time on campus as a technology coordinator
and volunteered to design a website for the Action Research Center.
“My dream of becoming a software programmer for a ‘Triple A’ game designer has not
vanished, but it’s evolved,” he said. “Utilizing both of my majors, I will be able
to develop software that will be beneficial to almost any person in the world.”