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CS Undergraduate Haus Embraces Arts and Computing

6/1/2015 6:10:00 AM By Laura Schmitt, CS @ ILLINOIS

For her first collegiate musical starring role, it was rather fitting that Mylene Haus played an ambitious, driven character. After all, the CS sophomore from Plainfield, Illinois, is pursuing excellence both in the arts and in science—computer science, to be exact.

Mylene Haus
Mylene Haus
Mylene Haus

In April, Haus portrayed the won’t-take-no-for-an-answer law student Enid Hoopes in Legally Blonde the Musical, which was the showcase campus entertainment for Mom’s Day weekend. Haus relished the attitude of this over-the-top character. “I really enjoyed playing her,” she said.

CS faculty member Cinda Heeren took her 10-year-old daughter and friends to see Haus perform. “[The girls] were dazzled by the show, and it was so powerful for me to be able to tell them that one of the stars was a computer scientist,” said Heeren. “It’s very important to me that my children not view the arts and engineering as mutually exclusive pursuits, and Mylene herself is a living, breathing example that thriving in both is possible and worthwhile.”

On top of her musical theatre interests, Haus sings alto with two University of Illinois choral groups—the Women’s Glee Club and Surround Sound, a new a cappella ensemble whose members are drawn from the Glee Club. During Mom’s weekend, she juggled the play with singing performances as part of the Glee Club’s 120th anniversary concert, including her first Surround Sound solo: the Imagine Dragons song “Demons.”

“I do like keeping busy all the time rather than being bored,” said Haus, who scheduled her time hour by hour and sacrificed sleep to complete class assignments and make rehearsals this past spring. “For pretty much every week after rehearsals started, I didn’t have any free time.”

Haus’ interests in the arts began in kindergarten when she and her cousins wrote and arranged plays for their parents. Later, her love of singing and acting led her to perform in numerous school choirs and plays throughout the years, including Beauty and the Beast and Guys & Dolls.

“From an early age, I also enjoyed playing video games, and it was a childhood dream to develop my own games,” said Haus, who joined the Gamebuilders Special Interest Group (SIG) to meet fellow students with a passion for video game development.

As if she wasn’t busy enough this past April, Haus participated in a game jam at Siebel Center, where fellow Illinois ACM members came together for a 24-hour game development marathon to build a zany third-person shooter game called Squirrella Warfare. According to Haus, she created and designed 3D models of weapons using Blender. In May, she was elected vice chair of the ACM Gamebuilders SIG.

This summer, Haus will work with the CS-sponsored Girls Engaged in Math & Science (GEMS) camp, designing a week’s worth of computing activities covering art, literature, music, and dance. “I’m so grateful that Mylene will be spending her summer working for the GEMS camp,” said Heeren, who manages the popular summer program. “She is the perfect role model for our groups of 13-year-old girls!”