It was during her sophomore year at River Hill High School in Clarksville that Amina Elashry decided to make a big change. Eager to build her knowledge base in computer sciences and cybersecurity, she enrolled in the Early College Cybersecurity Program at Howard Community College (HCC), a partnership with Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) known as JumpStart. It’s a dual enrollment program that invites HCPSS high school students to take many or all of their classes at HCC, fulfilling their high school graduation requirements while also earning college credits ahead of schedule. As soon as Amina stepped foot onto the college campus and began taking classes, she knew she’d made the right choice.
“Right away, I loved the new environment I was learning in,” recalls Amina. “I was in class with people who are mature and focused, and interested in the same career track as me. I also had a lot of flexibility in terms of which classes to take, and how to build a schedule that worked best for me.”
Currently, Amina is a high school senior with her sights set on graduation in May 2020. She is taking calculus, computer science, physics, and Arabic language courses this semester – all on campus at HCC. Amina says her Early College experience has helped her develop good time management and study habits, paving the way for her success as she makes the transition to the University of Maryland at College Park, where she intends to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science.
“The computer sciences courses I have already taken and the industry connections I’ve been able to make by studying at HCC have given me a lot of early exposure in my field,” said Amina. “It’s made me realize that what I am doing is right. I know I can build a career in this field and be happy and successful.”
One of the most impactful connections Amina has made is with Sofiac, a web development company headquartered in Columbia. In Fall 2019, she was invited to participate in the firm’s Incubator Program, which gives aspiring computer science professionals an opportunity to team up with a mentor and learn about various industry approaches and best practices. From this experience, Amina has boosted her knowledge base about the latest technologies and applications used for web design and development.
“I love spending time at Sofiac and learn something new every day I am there,” said Amina. “Having a chance to be in that environment and be surrounded by people working in jobs like the one I hope to someday have, is very inspiring.”