Ahmed came to Rider as an international student from Pakistan.
Ahmed was a member and held leadership roles in various campus organizations, including the Association for Computing Machinery (founding member and president), Model UN and the Omicron Delta Kappa honor society.
As a recipient of Rider’s Undergraduate Research Scholar Award (URSA), Ahmed worked closely with Rider faculty to complete an interdisciplinary study that applied machine learning to astronomy.
As an international student, Ahmed faced challenges adjusting to a “foreign place.”
Ahmed, who is originally from Pakistan, developed an interest in computer science as a high school student in Saudi Arabia. After applying to various colleges and universities, his sibling recommended Rider. Although Ahmed knew that this transition would lead to a world of opportunities, once he arrived, he encountered several challenges often faced by both first-year and international students trying to navigate a new environment.
Stepping away from his comfort zone allowed him to find his community and tap into new possibilities.
Over time, Ahmed shed his shy exterior by getting more involved at Rider. He joined campus organizations, and notably was the founder and first president of Rider’s Chapter Association of Computing Machinery.
He also earned a certificate in leadership and landed a campus job working as a digital content specialist in Rider’s Office of University Marketing & Communications. There he assisted with the launch of Rider’s new website, an experience that he says, “turned out to be an unexpected and fantastic opportunity for professional growth.”
He also fostered strong relationships with his professors who turned into his mentors.
Ahmed came to Rider with no coding or programming knowledge. Naturally, he leaned on his professors for help and found himself going the extra mile to take advantage of their office hours for further support. He recalls one major advantage of attending a smaller university was having easier access to professors during office hours and more opportunities to develop personal mentoring relationships with them.
He credits his faculty mentors, in particular Dr. John Bochanski, the chair of Rider’s Department of Computer Science and Physics, and Dr. Md Ali, an assistant professor of computer science, for being instrumental in his success.
“Though my mentors had extremely high expectations of me, as they should, they were also very understanding of certain circumstances that might arise, all while providing me with more guidance than I could have imagined,” Ahmed says.
Because Rider is a smaller school, I found that seeking help from my professors was extremely easy and allowed me to form close relationships with them. As a result, I got a lot of opportunities to do research and be a leader on campus which gave me the required skills and experience to pursue a doctorate at the University of Utah."
Later, taking advantage of Rider's resources helped set the foundation for pursuing his Ph.D.
Ahmed was a highly accomplished undergraduate student. Among his achievements were being named an Andrew J. Rider Scholar, an honor only given to the top one percent of students, as well as being named an outstanding senior by the computer science program. He was also inducted into the College of Liberal Arts and Science Honors Society.
Additionally, he received Rider’s Undergraduate Research Scholar Award (URSA) which supports students to pursue independent research in an area of interest. The project gave him the chance to work closely with his professor, now mentor, Dr. John Bochanski to complete an interdisciplinary study that applied machine learning to astronomy.
“My URSA scholarship not only provided me with financial support but also a valuable opportunity that set me up to pursue grad school right after finishing undergraduate schooling,” he says.
Ahmed continues, “It was a really positive experience, and highlighted the benefits of going to Rider. I had the privilege of being mentored directly by Dr. Bochanski and found that he was always available and willing to answer any questions.”
Now he’s using what he’s learned at Rider to find continued success.
Ahmed is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in computer science at The University of Utah. He says the research he completed as an undergraduate student was not only the defining experience of his academic career at Rider but also set him up for a linear trajectory to graduate school. While his education and hard work opened new doors for him, Ahmed credits the community he built at Rider as a motivator for helping him to overcome challenges and maintain the ambition to excel in school.
“I think the biggest lesson I've learned from Rider is just how important community is. No matter how much potential a person has, that potential doesn't account for anything if there isn't a community providing support,” he says.
College of Arts and Sciences: School of Science, Technology and Mathematics
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