Commencement spotlight: Conrad Ma

This computer science major and Morehead-Cain Scholar used his love of beatboxing to make the transition to life in America after growing up in China.

Beatboxing is a profession for some and a hobby for many more.

For graduating Carolina senior Conrad Ma, it’s been a lifeline.

When Ma moved from his China to study in the United States as a teenager, beatboxing helped him establish himself in a new country.

“It’s been a big journey, coming from China to the States,” said Ma, who is among the more than 830 undergraduates who will have their degrees conferred during Winter Commencement. “Beatboxing has opened up a lot of doors to meet new people, and a lot of them became good friends.”

But beatboxing isn’t the only skill set the computer science major honed during this time at Carolina.

In the years he’s been in Chapel Hill, Ma has developed a new entrepreneurial mindset. Through the Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship in the College of Arts & Sciences, he helped develop software that faculty and staff can use to better communicate with their students through text messages instead of emails.

Ma will begin a product development role with a technology company in Silicon Valley later this month.

When he looks back on his time as a Carolina student, Ma is grateful for the skills he’s picked up in classrooms and memories across campus, but it’s the collection of faculty and staff mentors and friends that have made the most significant impact in his life.

“The thing I’ve enjoyed the most is the people and the companionship,” said Ma, a Morehead-Cain Scholar. “Now, it’s getting to the end of this amazing journey, and it’s truly a bittersweet feeling that I currently have. I will really, really miss the people, and I’d love to pay it back.”

By Rob Holliday, University Communications