My story begins in Kharkiv Ukraine, the industrial heartland of Eastern Europe where air-crafts and tanks were made by the Soviets until its independence in 1991. As a son of a single mother studying for her PhD in microbiology, I had to make my own way in life. As she would prepare test tubes and slides, I would play rudimentary video games on cassette tapes and x-ray machines that her and other co-workers setup for entertainment.
In the early 90s, when the Iron Curtain fell, my family immigrated to Israel, where I had a huge fascination with video arcades. We had no money, so I never got to play any of the flashy boxes I saw people pumping shekels into, but my dreams stuck with me when I came to America to join my mother who got a job working as a microbiologist for people having trouble conceiving children.
It was here that I realized that in life, skills are what keep a person afloat. It is skills that allowed my mother to travel the world as a woman with a child. These lessons I emulated throughout my life from her; hard work, honesty, and dedication to professional skills.
I’ve learned many skills throughout my life, in Middle-School I had to learn the skill of washing dishes and serving lunches to my fellow classmates, just so I could eat food alongside with them. In High-School, I had to learn to serve popcorn and movies to my classmates and patrons in a movie theater and later Blockbuster until past midnight, getting promoted to a manager at nineteen. I learned to sleep on the school bus and through my first class to catch up from closing the night before. In College, I learned that my honors High-School classes were harder, except now life was harder, I had to pay for everything on my own… in addition to food before, now shelter and books, tuition, car, gas, medical, retirement, etc. they all were on my plate. Thankfully, at this point I worked at Starbucks and they did provide medical for me (and my girlfriend — as a domestic partner, what a country!).
Since before High School, I’ve had to fend for myself completely. I feel like a hamster on a wheel — a lone man stepping from one loose stone on a rushing river to the next. I’ve learned how to completely cook for myself and the people I love, this has helped me feel independent. I drive everyone everywhere. I thrift shop and I fix everything I can on my own. I’ve done Lyft on the side. I’ve volunteered. Yet, despite my college degree in finance and a dead-end stable job, I don’t feel independent as a professional.
Thinking back to the time when I was a little child, exploring the streets of Ukraine and Jerusalem as a five, six, seven, eight, and nine year old; I always thought of a teacher of a life skill who would help change things forever for me, be a real life mentor — someone who would care about me as a person and my ability to use my skills in life to better the world. I believe that software engineering is the skill that can take my thoughts, ideas, and knowledge about the world and translate them into practical skills that everyone can benefit from — that the Holberton School is that mentor who cares about the person and how they apply their skills in life.
Software engineering is a creative skill that enhances ideas the same way technology historically enhanced an already existing idea. My entire life I always loved playing with concepts and electronics. It is for this reason I studied what I did in college and spend my free time reading about politics, economics, science, and other conceptual aspects of the world.
I am tired of running on life’s hamster wheel and want a solid life skill that will allow me to stand on the shoulders of giants.
The Holberton School has a special affinity to my story as a son of a single mother who just like Ms. Holberton is a pioneer in her profession and personal life. I want to make my mother proud and to make the school proud with the work that I do, not with the money I pay to the school. Respect is earned through hard work, not purchased like diplomas have been these days. If I am accepted as a no tuition student, I promise to make every effort to use the golden opportunity.