a brand new start

Syed's Story

The chance for a career in data — and a better life for a young family — realized through a certificate scholarship

Syed Akmal Hussain has known that he wanted to pursue a career in data analytics ever since a job-shadow opportunity at the stock exchange in Lahore, Pakistan, while a graduate statistics student at Punjab University.

“I love getting useful information from the data to make predictions,” Syed said. “I love making predictions.”

As his passion for data analytics has grown, so too have Syed’s career goals since he moved to the Seattle area in 2016.

“My current career aspirations are to find a position as a data analyst in which I can learn new techniques and advance in my career,” he said. “I would like to go into research one day and use my skills to produce groundbreaking insights that would positively benefit the wellbeing of others, particularly the underprivileged population.”

Although he graduated with a master’s in statistics from Punjab, Syed’s Pakistani graduate degree only translated to a bachelor’s in the United States, so Syed found part-time work as a cashier while he set about bolstering his resume.

Driven to Learn

Syed knew that he had to update his skills: he had studied programming languages like R and C++ programming in Pakistan but found that he needed to brush up on newer technologies like Python, SQL and Azure. Perhaps most importantly, Syed, a nonnative English speaker, wanted to strengthen his English language skills.

“When I came here I thought, ‘I have to improve myself,'” Syed said, and so he did, taking English classes at an area community college and accessing online learning platforms like Lynda, Coursera and Microsoft Virtual Academy at the public library to revamp his programming skills.

Despite his best efforts, however, Syed knew that a true, comprehensive classroom experience would prove more valuable and accelerate his efforts.

“I wanted the opportunity to express my expertise in front of the class, in front of the instructors, and to show how I can work in the field and also improve my skills as well,” he said.

As Syed searched for programs that fit what he was looking for, he found the University of Washington Certificate in Data Analytics: Techniques for Decision Making.

“When I started as a cashier, I thought, ‘This is not my work. This is not my goal. This is not my destination,’” Syed said. “That’s why I decided to move on to get admission into the certificate program.” 

A Scholarship Makes it Possible

Despite knowing that he wanted to pursue the Certificate in Data Analytics, Syed wouldn’t have been able to enroll in the program without the UW Certificate Scholarship Fund.

“Working part time in a store, I do not make enough money to afford a single program,” Syed said.

Syed has been especially motivated to pursue his passion and find a stable full-time job in data analytics since the birth of his son, Ayan Syed, in 2017.

“My son is my inspiration. When I see him smile, it’s an inspiration for me to work hard for him, for my wife, for myself, for our future,” Syed said. “Because working for any job that’s not related to my passion, my field, is not going to work in the future.”

Though he has a lot of work ahead of him, Syed’s used to working hard – and the scholarship makes all that hard work just a little bit easier.

“The scholarship is very important to me in terms of learning, improving and getting the first step in the door of my field,” Syed said. “I’m very thankful to the University of Washington, to those who gave me the opportunity to learn something and to grow in my field.”


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