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By: Megan Nash

It took Ahmad Rashidi many hours to get to just three minutes. In the brief moments during a pivotal Information Systems (IS) advisory board meeting, Ahmad’s journey went from aspiration to achievement.

Rashidi, a native of Kabul, Afghanistan, found his way to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) through a recommendation from a relative who lived in Richmond.

“As I adjusted to a new country and culture, the significance of curiosity, consistency and community became apparent in shaping my experience,” said Rashidi, who recently graduated this past December with a Master’s in Information Systems from VCU Business.

Adapting to his new environment, Rashidi got to work establishing a routine and building relationships with like-minded people. “I was actively participating in networking and attempting to meet new people,” he said. “I was a member of the Information Systems Organization (ISO) at the time, and my community became people with similar education and career goals.”

In his initial days at VCU, Rashidi wasted no time exploring opportunities. While he was rooted in the School of Business, a visit to Business Career Services set him on an unexpected path, leading him to a unique internship at the College of Engineering.

Through this internship, Rashidi was a contributor to the Digital ID Project, a partnership between the VCU College of Engineering and Bank of America, where students helped to create a mobile application offering financial education and career planning tools specifically for college students.

“This hands-on experience immersed me in the world of technology and data,” he said. “I worked closely with mentors from both schools and that allowed me to gain a holistic perspective.”

Back in the advisory board meeting, an invitation extended by Paul Brooks, Ph.D., department chair and professor of information systems at VCU Business, Rashidi stood on the brink of a new kind of opportunity – the chance to leave a lasting impression.

“With only three minutes allotted to represent myself and my experiences at VCU, this was an invaluable opportunity to connect with influential figures in the tech industry,” he said. “My primary goal was to secure an internship that would bolster my prospects for post-graduation employment.” 

Capturing the attention of Jimmy Chou, CEO of SingleStone Consulting and IS advisory board member, Rashidi was hired as an intern at SingleStone, a tech consulting firm, which blossomed into a full-time position as a Data Engineer where he designs and implements efficient data pipelines.

Rashidi expressed his gratitude to his VCU Business professors, who he said went above and beyond.

“Their dedication to imparting knowledge and fostering a supportive learning environment was truly commendable. Whether through engaging lectures, hands-on projects or one-on-one guidance, the professors consistently went above and beyond to ensure that students grasped complex concepts and could apply them effectively. Their approachability and willingness to provide additional support outside of class was instrumental in helping me navigate challenging topics and achieve academic success.”

“Ahmad’s journey, from the board meeting to excelling as a Data Engineer, is nothing short of inspiring,” said Brooks. “His determination and commitment to grabbing opportunities stands out. Ahmad’s success reflects the unique potential we see in every student’s journey.”

Now that he has graduated, Rashidi is diving deeper into artificial intelligence (AI) and contributing to solving real-world challenges using advanced technologies. 

“I am particularly passionate about leveraging AI to make people’s lives easier and more efficient. Whether it’s developing innovative solutions for healthcare, finance, education or other industries, I am eager to explore the possibilities of AI in addressing complex problems and driving positive societal impact.”

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