As a boy in his native Cameroon, Emile Nkwagoh, didn’t have access to a computer. Today he’s an IT pro at aerospace giant Sierra Space. Here’s how he got there.
As a boy in Cameroon, Emile Nkwagoh never dreamed he would become an information technology professional at a leading aerospace company. In fact, he didn’t even use a computer until he was 13 years old.
“I liked the fact that I could use a computer to do research,” he said of that exciting first experience. “I wanted to continue to learn because I wanted to challenge myself.”
But there was one problem: He didn’t have a computer at home or a computer department at his school.
Nkwagoh kept his interest alive nonetheless. And when he moved to Denver in 2015, it didn’t take him long to jump back into the field. After graduating from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Early College in northeast Denver, he chose to study Computer Information Systems at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
“I knew I needed to work extra-hard to keep up with my classmates because I had no real background in computers,” he said. “I think starting college with that mindset put me in a position of advantage in understanding computers faster than I expected.”
The hard work paid off.
During his senior year at MSU Denver, Nkwagoh landed an internship at Sierra Space, a top aerospace firm in Louisville. He did so well there that the company hired him full-time last year. Today, the 2020 graduate is a Tier Two IT support technician who is studying for IT certifications and continuing to learn about information system security, databases, networking and system analysis and design.
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Nkwagoh credited MSU Denver for providing him with the foundation he needed to succeed in the IT field. The University helped him put theory into practice, he said, and taught him everyday skills such as teamwork, agility and communication. He said he hopes to someday get his master’s degree at MSU Denver.
His best career advice for students is simple: “Do what you’re passionate about, network with people who are doing what you want to do, and most importantly, take advantage of internship opportunities as soon as you can.”