Elliott Crifasi enjoys watching — and making — Mario and Donkey Kong clobber each other.
His parents’ generation played Mario Bros. and Mario Kart. Millennials prefer watching the characters of the Mario Bros. universe destroy each other in head-to-head combat in the video game “Super Smash Bros.”
Crifasi, who lives in Trevor with parents Renee and Eric, enjoys playing the game in his down time. He also enjoys playing basketball.
He’s also pretty good at school. At Saturday’s UW-Parkside winter commencement, Crifasi was one of six to receive Outstanding Graduate awards, and one of three students from Kenosha County to receive such an honor.
Crifasi graduated with a degree in computer science. In January he’s heading for Portland and will start his career with Nike as a software engineer.
“They found me,” Crifasi said. “Some of their talent recruiters reached out to me and thought I might make a good fit. I went through the interview process and they pulled the trigger.
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“I move out there the beginning of January.”
Crifasi, 22, graduated from Wilmot High School and took a circuitous route to Parkside. He started at the Milwaukee School of Engineering and majored in mechanical engineering. He soon decided he needed something different.
He left MSOE, took a gap year and enrolled at Parkside.
“I really like there not being a lot of people,” Crifasi said of Parkside. “You get a lot of one-on-one attention. At Parkside, you have this sense that you mean something and that the program cares about you.
“Also, because of its proximity and being close to where I grew up, I could stay with my family and see them on a day-to-day basis.”
Crifasi’s decision to major in computer science is a living example of the ages-old adage “to thine own self be true.”
“I’ve had a longtime interest in it, ever since I was a kid,” Crifasi said. “It’s a lifelong passion. I came to the conclusion I wanted to pursue that as a career choice.”
Crifasi held an internship in the UW-Parkside App Factory for two summers. He also served as a tutor in the Parkside Academic Resource Center and volunteered to assist and mentor software engineering students.