The international flight transporting Amin Taheri landed on a US tarmac. The passenger from Iran attempted to understand the English words broadcast throughout the cabin. The foreign computer engineer eagerly connected with his uncle, a home builder for Oklahoma City’s upper class, who supported Taheri and even offered him a start in the construction industry.
“No Uncle, I want to try to make my own way, like you did 40 years ago,” said Taheri.
Taheri needed a job, and Oklahoma needs computer engineers. But, Taheri could not fluently speak English to communicate his skills or abilities, nor did he possess the required certificates. He enrolled in an English course at OCCC and gratefully accepted a part-time, package handler position with UPS. Within four months UPS promoted Taheri to supervise a section of five package handlers. The famously brown shipping company’s offer of $5,250 in annual tuition reimbursement presented Taheri with an opportunity he readily seized.
“My advisor at OCCC suggested a master’s degree in computer science and cybersecurity from Oklahoma Christian,” said Taheri. “At OC, everyone wants to help me! Professor North and Professor Coleman looked at my transcript, noticed some holes and told me what classes and certificates I need.”
Taheri worked 30 hours at UPS and 20 hours in OC’s Support Central each week while taking nine hours of graduate courses. At UPS he frequently spoke of his classes, his goals and vision for his future. Taheri intentionally maintains his focus on a short list of goals. He knows that stating the goals aloud increases his chance to successfully reach them.
UPS Supervisor Shawntae Price, an accomplished engineer, listened and heard Taheri's dreams and found ways to help move him in the direction he wanted to go. She worked with his schedule, and when an opportunity presented itself, paved the way for him to transfer to the Industrial Engineering department. There he was able to immediately apply his classroom learning in real time.
“I studied Advanced Databases, Network Security, Object-Oriented Programming and used everything I learned in my job,” said Taheri. “Before taking Foundations of Technology in Ethics & Values I only saw the surface, but now I see how my work affects people’s lives,” said Taheri “It is my best course. I love Dr. Newberry!”
Taheri passionately expresses his love for OC and it’s people.
“Greg Gillham welcomed me. Mary Ann helped me. Lisa Herndon trusted me. Professor Coleman taught me real, relevant cybersecurity, plus he made me speak up to gain confidence in my English. I always consult with him, and he advises me about my future,” said Taheri. “Peter Sheldon helps me succeed. Julia in the Writing Center supported me. Everyone here wants to see me be successful. I love OC!”
Taheri’s growing confidence that he gained at OC and UPS, spurred him to apply for a full-time, open UPS web developer position. Professor Coleman advised that it would be a positive career move, and he got it! In March 2020, Taheri began working remotely in his new position. By the end of summer his Master of Science in Computer Science with cybersecurity was complete.
Taheri continues to speak about dreams for his future. His short-term future involves moving to Boston, Mass. Taheri will apply for his Ph.D. from MIT! Taheri's long-term plans include a family, children who earn a US degree and someday becoming a professor who makes the world better through ethical technology, the principles that he first learned at OC. Maybe an office door in Prince Engineering will have a Professor Taheri nameplate some day.
Amin Taheri's Timeline of Rapid Success in America
Came to the US
Very exciting, interesting, freedom and hard because of culture shock, homesick, learning a new culture, new lifestyle and try to know myself better
April 2017 - March 2018
Learning from my uncle's experience and trying to know the culture better.
August 2017- March 2018
Took English Classes at OCCC
March 2018 - June 2018
Apply for different jobs
In the middle of May, I realized I can’t find a job in the IT field …
The answer I heard from a different interview but they didn’t point it directly.
You don’t have a degree from here, skills certificates, communication, green card,.....
June 25, 2018
Hire at UPS as a package handler and start the Job
Now I'm so happy I couldn’t get another job before :)
July 2018 - October 2018
Study for IT certification
As a result, I got five IT certifications from CompTIA, Cisco, and Microsoft.
Promoted to a part-time supervisor at UPS
Apply for OC
Move to Industrial Engineering department at UPS
It was exciting because I had the opportunity to work with computer and analysis data and process
Start study at OC
The first semester was hard because I tried to learn the new education system and lots of writing ;)
Start Job at OC in Support central
It was very interesting with a friendly and supportive environment. After starting with OC customer service, I moved to IT to help with OC security.
Apply Job for Full-Time web developer at UPS
Start the new job in March 2020
I'm really grateful for everything people here have done for me. I walk the trail around Lake Hefner almost every day. I get to work and pay taxes. I help pay for that trail!
Taheri's easy smile, attitude of learning and drive for success all worked together to create a welcoming atmosphere for him in his new country. The encouragement he receives from supervisors, professors and co-workers builds his confidence to pursue the next goal. Beginning with his English classes, Taheri encountered many people who wanted to help him advance.
“Amin, I believe you will be a successful person," said TEFL Instructor Rady Foster.
Letter of recommendation to the Oklahoma Christian University master's program:
"I highly recommend Amin for admission to the Masters of Science in Engineering Program at Oklahoma Christian University. I was Amin's TOEFL Preparation instructor at Oklahoma City Community College in 2017-2018. From the very beginning, he impressed me as a very motivated and hard-working student. He rarely, if ever, missed class in the two semesters he spent in our non-credit program, and was always eager and ready to learn beyond what was required of the students. Amin clearly emerged as a leader in his class with his willingness to help and motivate his classmates as well. In April 2018, I nominated Amin for the annual OCCC Student Awards and he was one of two students who received the Community Outreach and Education Certificate of Achievement for demonstrating excellence in the TOEFL program. I believe Amin would be a tremendous asset to the M.S. in Engineering program at OC, and I recommend his application highly and without reservation," wrote Foster.
"When I was ignored at interviews, because I don't have a certificate or degree from the US, and I couldn't find a job in the IT field, I didn't lose my hope. I decided to first find an entry-level job then I started self-study and prepared to take tests for these certificates. I really appreciate the Metropolitan Library at NW OKC because of the friendly environment, comfortable place for study and the free study materials," said Taheri.