“The students I met at Wright College were on par with the students I’ve met at Columbia, and the classes I took – especially the math – were tough. Those classes prepared me to be successful when I transferred.”

When Hamza Gayurzoda came to the U.S. from Tajikistan in 2013 after he graduated high school at just 17, he started working whatever jobs he could to support himself. When he learned about an intensive IT bootcamp in 2019, he jumped at the chance to get started in a more specific direction, and started work as an automation engineer with the skills he learned. But he wasn’t done yet.

Interested in learning more in the field and being able to qualify for better jobs, Hamza decided to earn his college degree. When he started his search, he found City Colleges of Chicago. Then, as he continued his research, he found the Engineering Pathway at Wright College.

“I knew I wanted to study Computer Science, so I started searching for programs. I actually worked backwards and saw the Wright partnership on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s website. I didn’t know I could start right here in Chicago and transfer right in to UIUC,” Hamza said.

Due to the pandemic, all of Hamza’s classes were remote. That worked well for him, because he was working full-time and going to school full-time. He also didn’t want to miss spending time with his wife and toddler.

And while he originally planned to head to UIUC after Wright, he ended up going in a different direction.

“I got an email about a workshop with someone from Columbia University and I decided to attend. It was the best decision I made, because while I only had three weeks until the admissions application deadline, I decided to go for it,” explained Hamza.

And his efforts paid off – Hamza started his Ivy League experience at Columbia University in the spring of 2022.

“Wright College was a great start – especially because of the math we had to take. The calculus, physics, and algebra classes made me more prepared than some of my classmates. I have a breadth of knowledge and a properly laid foundation. In fact, all my credits from Wright were accepted by Columbia,” Hamza said.

Hamza isn’t sure what’s next – his family would love to come back to Chicago at some point, and now he’s eyeing interesting research programs and master’s degrees in the computer science field. He is especially interested in artificial intelligence – his minor at Columbia.

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