I first met Tarah in 2010 while she was a graduate student in the Modeling and Simulation program at the University of Central Florida. I was at the Army Research Institute at the time, and was leading a project developing training for the cognitive skills related to visual IED detection. Tarah was a student under Dr. Jim Szalma, with whom I was working to develop videogame-based training for vigilance. The software platform we were using was not designed to support a research project, and consequently there were some quirks involved in working with it. During one visit to the PeRL lab, it became apparent that Tarah had taught herself everything about the software and was fixing the bugs on her own. In addition, she was effectively running the research project despite being the most junior researcher on the entire team. I told her at the time that she didn't have to do that, and that it was above and beyond my expectations of her. She knew. She just wanted to learn it. It was then that I first knew she was special.
At QIC, we value a mindset of continuous improvement. One of the things I admire most about Tarah is her never-ending quest for learning and self-development. Every time I see her, she's taught herself something new, whether it's sign language, how to prepare vegan meals, or how to code. Tarah is also extremely conscientious and goal-oriented. Once, I asked her what she wanted to be when she "grew up." She responded with a letter, describing in detail her plans for education, family, and a career. I have no doubt she'll be able to reach all of her goals, and I look forward to being able to support her along her path. More importantly, I'm looking forward to the positive changes she'll bring to QIC and I know we'll be a much better company for having her.