For me, education is an ongoing process. From early age, I have always been interested in learning, learning about everything from how history shaped our current societies to how atoms work. From sneaking out of classes to spend time in the library, to reading my dad's college books, I always found a way to learn something new. My passion for learning led to where I am, from learning programming to co-founding CourseKey to even greater things.
My educational journey has been a unique one. For fifteen years, I attended school in Iraq. My elementary school was nothing special. However, my passion for learning and efforts did not go unnoticed. I was ranked top of my school, which gave me the opportunity to apply and attend Al Mutamayizeen Secondary. To be able to attend it, I had to not only pass multiple comprehensive academic and IQ tests but also score in the top 100 of the applicants. That was not easy! It was the hardest thing I had done. I spent my entire summer studying and preparing for it. These tests were comprehensive tests in science, math, and language that spanned multiple days, eight hours each.
Sadly, because of the war, I had to move from Baghdad to Bartella. This meant I was not able to continue my education there. However, my passion for learning never stopped. I continued teaching myself and learning more and more about computers and technology on my own. Nonetheless, my stay in the new secondary school was short because I ended up leaving the country.
When I came to the US, I was a sophomore. That meant that I had missed on a year and a half of academic progress. That didn't stop or slow me down. After I took the placement exams, I was placed in the lowest level of the English as a second language program (ESL). That meant that I had to go through the entire program (4 years long) before I could take a regular freshman English. The counselors and teachers expected me to spend my remaining high school time just finishing the ESL program.
I did not like that plan! After a couple of weeks, in the entry class of the ESL program, I became a translator and a teacher assistant for my peers. My teacher noticed my efforts and helped me change the class to the next level of the ESL program (beginner's level). From there, I spent only a couple more months in the ESL program. While I was in the beginner's level, I was still unsatisfied. I knew I could easily be in a higher level and spending years to get there was not an option for me.
I spent the majority of those months in front of the counseling and advising office trying to convince them to move me up. Because of my performance in the beginner ESL class, the teacher helped me skip not one but two classes. I made a deal with the counseling & advising office. During summer, I would take the regular freshman English class, skipping the entirety of the ESL program. If I passed, I could continue progressing normally from there. However, if I failed, I would stop bothering them and must take every single class in the ESL program.
I ended up not only passing but ranking the top of the class with an A+. I managed within half of a year to finish the entire ESL program and freshman English. At that point, I started setting my goals higher. It was no longer satisfying to catch up to my peers. I wanted to get into university directly from high school. That still was no easy feat, I had to make up for almost two years that I was not attending school.
To reach my goal, I just did what I always do: used my passion. I never missed a summer school session, I took every opportunity to take a class. I did online classes, I took after school classes and even took college classes. All of this was still not challenging enough for me. I didn't stop at taking regular classes; I took honors and Advanced Placement courses as well. I was able to graduate within two and a half years while passing the majority of my peers and ranking at the top of my graduating class.
I got accepted into San Diego State University (SDSU) as a computer engineer. Soon after starting my university journey, I realized that it was still not challenging for me. I added a computer science minor, joined multiple student organizations, started my own student organizations, managed computer labs, became a teacher assistant and worked for the university. While doing all of that, I learned a lot. Taking all this knowledge and the knowledge gained from personal learning on the internet, I was able to run my own personal software development business as well as manage another.
Despite all of that, my hunger for knowledge was still not satisfied. Classes were starting to get slow and boring because I already knew the material before even taking the class. I needed an environment where I could always be learning. The solution was building CourseKey. At CourseKey every day has been a day where I learn something new. Soon, I realized that school was no longer benefiting me or my knowledge hunger, so I ended up taking a break. I would have never taken a break from school if it weren't for the environment that CourseKey offers. I am in an environment that forces me to always learn, surrounded by great people who want to always grow and achieve more.
Education has always been a part of my life and it will always be. I can't see myself stop learning. To me if I stop learning that is when I die. Learning and education are my passions, and I will always give everything I do a hundred and twenty (as long as I am able to).