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Neumont University was founded in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2003, to fill the growing national demand for industry-ready technology professionals by offering an accredited bachelor’s degree in three years that immerses students in a rigorous, project-based curriculum. This blog serves as a platform to publish and share, news, reviews, and stories from Utah's best kept tech secret. 

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Neumont University's official blogs shares the stories of our students, alumni, faculty, and staff to illustrate the Neumont experience. 

 

Salt Lake City's Serious Summer Summary

Neumont University

With the Utah Arts Festival kicking off today at Library Square and summer quarter just a few days away, it's time to give you the lowdown on how to get down this summer in Salt Lake. 

Salt Lake Gaming Con, Salt Lake Comic Con, Game Tyrant Expo

Get your geek on with conventions all summer long with conventions throughout the Salt Lake Valley. Tickets start at $12 and go from there for these events. And who knows? Maybe you'll see some Neumonters. 

Salt Lake Gaming Con is July 7-8 at the South Towne Expo Center. Be sure to stop by and say hi to the admissions team. Then it's on to Salt Lake Comic Con which is taking place during Freshman Orientation Kickoff. The three-day event in late September is a great place for cosplay, celebrity spotting, and loading up on fan art. Finally, we're intrigued by the Game Tryant Expo, this gaming tournament will be the largest esports event of its kind ever in Utah.

Free or cheap outdoor concert series

With the Twilight Concert Series on Thursday nights and Salt City Sounds on Wednesdays, students have two opportunities each week to hear great acts live in downtown Salt Lake. That's in addition to a great lineup of musicians at other venues around town. If you need more music in your life, check out the Red Butte Gardens Concert Series near the University of Utah, USANA Amphitheater in West Valley, and the Deer Valley Music Festival near Park City. 

Hiking, biking, and all the outdoors you can handle

It may be scary, but it's always a great break from the city to embrace the nearby nature. An early morning hike up City Creek Canyon or a bike ride along the Jordan River may just help you relax, reset, and enjoy the beauty of the city this summer. Keep an eye out for Unplug & Play events with Neumont's Resident Advisors to help you get to know SLC's outdoor scene. There's also a camping trip scheduled for July 30-31 at Crystal Hot Springs. Contact JP to reserve your seat. 

Free or cheap film screenings

There's more than $5 Movie Nights in the summer. (Although don't forget to watch Valerian on Tuesday, July 25 with Neumont at the Gateway.) In addition to Neumont's own film festival on Friday, August 4 on campus, hot summer nights are rife with  free or cheap movie showings across the city. Cities and libraries show movies outside all summer long. Neumont will be headed to a showing of Raiders of the Lost Ark at Library Square on Friday, August 18 at 8:30 p.m. The Tower Theater also has special screenings all summer long of cult classics like Ghost in the Shell, Clue, and The Big Lebowski. Tickets are $7 and screenings are every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday all summer long. 

Baseball, roller derby, soccer, and a bunch of other sports probably

But we only pay a little bit of attention to those. However, Neumont will be headed down to the Star Wars-themed Salt Lake Bees game on Friday, July 21 at 6:30 p.m. You can also take in a roller derby match on Saturday, July 15. Seating is limited for both events, so contact JP to reserve your spot. 

Farmers Markets, Food and Art Festivals

Pick a weekend and there's probably a festival in Downtown, Sugar House, or another area of the city. Some of the classic cultural celebrations include Greek Fest and Fiesta Italia. The Downtown Farmers Market on Saturdays at Pioneer Park is always crowded and a good time for finding local art, crafts, and foods. When it comes to the arts, there's the aforementioned Utah Arts Festival, Craft Lake City, and Urban Arts Fest. Some other stand out events include SLCVEGFEST and Crucialfest

This is just a sampling of what's available for an exciting and adventurous summer. Check out Visit Salt Lake for more great events and activities.  

Neumont’s Online Associate of Science in Software Development

Neumont University

We sat down with Jason Hammon, Neumont’s manager of learning and instructional design to talk about the launch of Neumont’s new Online Associate of Science in Software Development degree. Jason’s background in education  includes a degree from Brigham Young University, graduate school at Harvard, classes at Cambridge, and work for Google. 

NU: Well let’s get right into it. We saw the press release, and it looks like the first day of classes begin on June 26. Tell us a little bit about this degree, and ultimately who it’s for? 
JH
: I like to think of it as a “Get into Tech” associate degree. It’s specifically for those who don’t have a college degree, but are not able to take the traditional route. Maybe they missed the college boat right after high school, but would still like to get into a tech career. The online environment caters to a nontraditional student—someone who may have kids, or a part-time job, or can’t commit to living in downtown Salt Lake for three years. We expect people to use this degree as a way to change careers, no matter their age or experience. 

NU: And what specifically does it entail? 
JH:
It’s a two-year program that follows Neumont’s current quarter schedule; but as opposed to a lot of associate degrees that focus on your generals first then transfer into a bachelor’s degree, this degree is focused on getting your skills first. Here, you start out coding. And then, you can obtain measures of gainful employment as you move through the degree. 

In fact, after just a few classes students would be in a position to get some industry certificates. So for an example, let’s say Joey is working at Sunglass Hut and finishes his first quarter, so he takes a certification exam. Now he can start working for the Geek Squad. By aligning our curriculum with certification, at the end of the degree you could be a software developer—a Junior Developer or QA Automation Engineer. 

NU: So why is Neumont introducing this degree? 
JH:
We’re all aware that there is a huge gap as far as filling STEM positions—particularly in coding and computer science. This degree takes what Neumont does really well (computer science education), and gives more people access to it. Right now, Neumont can take on about 150 – 200 students each year, but we know that relocating to Salt Lake for a bachelor’s degrees, even an accelerated program, is not a fit for everyone. This program gives more people who are not able to move to Salt Lake City an opportunity to learn. 

NU: Some students have been asking about the program’s accreditation. Can you speak to that? 
JH:
 This program has the same accreditation as Neumont's bachelor's degree programs. However, usually what people are really asking is if Title IV funding is available. This program is not eligible for grants and loans under Title IV currently. However, there is financial aid available from the Office of Financial Aid. As I’ve mentioned, the associate degree follows the lead of Neumont’s proven record for computer science training. Our goal is to get people into the workforce to help fill the job demand. With regard to the question of funding, while the program is not eligible for grants and federal loans under Title IV, there is scholarship money available and the financial aid office can explain alternative funding options.

(For more information on Neumont’s accreditation, visit here and here. Financial aid is available to those who qualify for all of Neumont’s degree programs.) 

NU: And how specifically does the associate degree differ from Neumont’s bachelor’s degree? 
JH:
There’s a few ways it differs, some which we’ve already discussed. First, it’s an option for people who are outside what we’d deem a ‘traditional student’—maybe they are married with children, already have a full-time job, perhaps they have sick parents they need to take care of. It’s a student who is looking for, or needs a little bit more flexibility in their schedule than the traditional student who usually finds themselves at Neumont. 

Another difference is the structure, more specifically the time commitment – being an associate degree, it’s obviously structured to be shorter with a fewer number of classes. The aim of this degree is to help the student learn everything they need to know to qualify for employment in the software industry quickly with a reasonable course load. 

From a content standpoint, this degree offers different industry-related projects. Neumont's bachelor's programs have built-in team-based projects called Enterprise Projects where the students learn by completing meaningful projects for tech companies. Meanwhile, the associate degree offers team-based projects and individual internship opportunities for students to gain entry-level industry experience. 

NU: Can you give me a specific example of the differences between the programs? 
JH:
Sure. It could be the difference between knowing how to build a processor versus knowing what a processor does and how it affects programs in the real world. A bachelor’s degree will get you more deeply into both sides, but we’re going to focus on the latter in this program. 

It’s important to note this degree has large emphasis on testing – which seems to be a common first step into development. There’s big demand for software testers, but it’s not a group that organizations or institutions are putting much emphasis into training. 

The degree also takes a more traditional approach to programming – with a particular emphasis on Java. I’ll also point out that there is a team-based component as well – so it shares some of the structure, as far as the project-based approach, that Neumont is known and celebrated for. 

NU: How do the career trajectories and average starting salaries differ between Neumont’s two degree programs? 
JH:
While I’d love it if our associate degree graduates came out making the same as our bachelor’s degree grads, that’s not realistic for a two-year degree. Entry-level information technology specialists can generally expect to earn around $40,000 - $50,000. We need to remember it’s fundamentally a different group than our bachelor’s graduates who are averaging $63,000* a year when they graduate. The goal of this program is to help a student change careers and land an entry-level position in the tech field. The sky's the limit in this industry, and we want students to be able to have that opportunity.

NU: Why does this program have a different cost than the on-ground bachelor’s degrees? 
JH:
The online platform provides scalability. This scalability allows us to reduce the costs to the students while offering access to a Neumont experience. Keep in mind we are seeking to be competitive with other associate programs – and the associate program is already a shorter timeframe. Additionally, the overhead costs are another distinguishing factor between the two programs. 

NU: Will the credits earned towards a bachelor’s degree transfer to the online associate degree? And if so, can a student transfer from Neumont’s bachelor’s programs to the online associate degree program? 
JH: As I mentioned, the programs are built differently for their respective audiences. Currently, the associate degree credits don’t transfer into the bachelor’s degree programs. As far as transferring to the online program—while it’s technically possible to enroll, whether concurrently or moving to the program, there are still a lot of different classes a student would be required to take. It’s something that would need to be approached on a case-by-case basis with your advocate, taking into account long-term goals and keeping in mind the energy, resources and financial obligations that have already gone into the current program. 

NU: Is the associate degree easier than the bachelor’s degree? 
JH: (Laughs). Well, it’s shorter. From a course building perspective, some aspects are actually harder. One key difference is that students in this program need to be more autonomous – so it’s going to vary person to person. So it’s not that it’s easier, but again, it’s just different. 

We’ve worked hard on the course design so it’s more structured, which is especially helpful because there is not going to be as much in-person teacher-to-student feedback or instructor availability that you’ll find with the bachelor’s. 

And before we end, I’d also like to point out that our video quality is high, and that we still incorporate what you would expect from Neumont. We emphasize active and hands-on learning through projects. 

NU: Well Jason, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate your insights and are excited to see more from your team as this new offering takes off. 

Classes begin June 26. Learn more about the Online Associate of Science in Software Development at www.neumont.edu/online. You can apply for the program at admission.neumont.edu. Students who apply to start classes this June will have their application fee waived automatically. 

*Salary statistic is calculated using data from 301 Neumont University graduates from 2012 through 2015 who were employed within their field within six months of graduation. Neumont verifies employment, date of employment offer, and first-year compensation by employers in writing. Neumont does not guarantee employment or first-year compensation for future graduates.

Techies with a Passion for Web APIs Invited to a Neumont University Event with Amazon

Neumont University

Neumont University, a private institution offering accelerated bachelor's degrees in computer science and related fields welcomes Alessandro Muti, principal software engineer for Amazon Media to Salt Lake City on Monday, May 22, 2017 for a special alumni event. Tech-professionals with a passion for web APIs are also invited to attend the event, which will be held from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at The Little America Hotel, 500 South Main Street, in downtown Salt Lake City.

“We are elated to welcome Mr. Muti and members from Amazon to Salt Lake City as we further expand our relationship with Amazon,” Shaun McAlmont, Neumont University president said. “Downtown continues to grow and thrive as a tech-center for the Mountain West, and collaborating with a successful company like Amazon is exactly what Neumont strives for in all of its business partnerships.”

In his current role, Muti provides technical thought leadership, architecture guidance, coaching and mentoring in the Amazon Media division. He will speak to alumni and guests about APIs, followed by a pub-style quiz with tech-centric questions and prizes. The event is free for alumni and tech professionals, but participants must register by this Friday, May 19 for the Evening with Amazon

Before joining Amazon, Muti was vice president of enterprise architecture for Agylisys, a leading developer and marketer of proprietary enterprise software, services, and solutions to the hospitality industry. He started his career at Microsoft with the Windows 3.1 team, where he spent a decade in various roles including Windows NT and the Internet Explorer team. He is the inventor of BITs and Windows Automatic Updates.

Muti will present a Tech Talk to Neumont students on Monday, May 22 at 10:30 a.m.  at The Little America Hotel. Then, Amazon Web Services Operations Manager MIchael Foley will present a Tech Talk to students enrolled in the information systems degree program on Tuesday, May 23 at 10:30 a.m. on campus. 

The key to success for Neumont alumni

Neumont University

It's no secret, we're proud of our alumni and their successes. From the grads who go on to high profile jobs at companies like Amazon, Tesla, and Google, to the grads who develop their own games, and the grads who start their own companies, we love hearing about our graduates successful careers in technology. A degree from Neumont will help you launch your career in tech.

The success of our graduates is one of the most important things to us. That's why we provide a project-based curriculum focused on giving you the real-world experience you need to launch your career in technology. 

After all, what good is a college education if it doesn't start your career? College is one of the most substantial investments you'll ever make in time and money--we think it should pay off for years to come. To help you see a strong return on investment, you'll take career development courses and classes designed with input from industry partners like Oracle, Microsoft, and IBM. 

You'll have the technical foundation and teamwork skills needed to take you from college grad to successful professional. Since 2013, 77% of Neumont University graduates accepted a job offer before they even graduated.* Join the tech elite, and enjoy results like these. 

To secure your place among the tech elite at Neumont, complete your Enrollment Agreement on the Accepted Student Portal by May 8, 2017

Not yet accepted to start classes this fall? Complete your Application for Admission along with application fee or fee waiver, transcripts, and test scores as soon as possible at www.neumont.edu/apply

*Employment statistic is calculated using data from the 232 Neumont University graduates from 2013 through 2015. Of those graduates, 179 gained employment in their field of study before graduation. Neumont verifies employment and date of employment offer by employers in writing. Neumont does not guarantee employment for future graduates.

An Easter egg hunt, project presentations, faculty reception, and more FReX nonsense

Krista Smith

A complete wrap up to all things FReX last weekend as the Class of 2020 got to know Neumont Unviersity and Salt Lake CIty. 

Neubies and their guests arrived to a light breakfast and checked in at a hotel in downtown Salt Lake City. They listened to presentations from Chief Operating and Academic Officer, Aaron Reed, Director of Academics Tim Clark, Director of Corporate Relations Teresa Zundel, Career Services Manager Britta Nelson, and alumnus and Computer Science Instructor Josh Krebs.

Presenters shares why they chose to work at Neumont, highlighted stats and data about the future of computer science in the United States, and explained that Neumont is the best choice for a degree in technology because of our project-based curriculum devleoped in partnership with the tech industry, hands-on approach, and real-world experience. Not to mention, a dedicated Career Services team to help students find jobs before graduation.

The presentations were followed by lunch as a panel of current students and alumni tackled questions on everything from why they chose Neumont to their day-to-day life to their careers. A huge thank you to each of them for taking time out of their day to share their Neumont story. Chris, Furqan, Mary, and Melissa were happy to share their experiences as students and alumni. 

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After lunch, attendees and their guests were invited to Project Showcase Prime at Neumont's campus at 143 South Main Street in Salt Lake City. At Prime, students with the best projects from Showcase are invited to present once more. These dedicated students showed off apps, games, and software they had developed independently and in small groups to prove their skills in Java, C#, and more. 

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During Project Showcase Prime, guests were invited to tour a student apartment in the Tower Suites, chat with faculty, and search for Easter eggs in honor of the holiday weekend. 

As if all of that wasn't enough, accepted students were invited to get to know current students with a night of gaming on campus. (After a break for dinner at a nearby restaurant of the guests' choosing.) Parents were invited to get to know each other at a small mixer event at the Little America's Lucky H Bar and Grille. 

Students and visitors competed in tournaments for Super Smash Bros and Overwatch. They also had a choice of games to play including Cards Against Humanity, Pathfinder, Resident Evil 7, and more. 

Thank you for visiting! We hope you had as much fun as we did!

Supporting students from the first day of class

Neumont University

Neumont University's Office of Student Affairs is tasked with providing students with the support and resources they need from the first day of class until the last day of class.

Senior Student Life Coordinator John Peppinger draws the winners during a raffle at Casino Night.

Senior Student Life Coordinator John Peppinger draws the winners during a raffle at Casino Night.

First and foremost, each student is assigned an advocate who they meet with regularly to discuss classes, adjusting to college life, and set personal and professional goals. In between these meetings, the student affairs team helps students develop clubs and organizations a.k.a. orders to celebrate their interests from Pathfinder to student government. The staff also schedule, plan, and organize events and activities to help students relax, study, have fun, and get to know each other.

Some of the highlights for the upcoming quarter include Study Sessions and the Unplug and Play series.

The study sessions are held each Wednesday night beginning on April 19 until May 21. From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., students are encouraged to study in The Commons individually and in small groups. Tutors and Academic Coaches are available during these sessions, which sometimes include dinner.

Student Life Coordinator Cody Garrison deals a game of black jack at Neumont's annual Casino Night event. 

Student Life Coordinator Cody Garrison deals a game of black jack at Neumont's annual Casino Night event. 

The Unplug and Play series is head each Thursday evening beginning on April 20 this quarter. The first event will be an Easter Egg Hunt for anyone missing out on jelly beans and chocolate bunnies. Past activities have included bocce, Frisbee golf, biking, and hiking.

In addition to all the fun, Student Affairs also keeps a mind towards studying and academics. The team also helps students register for classes, order books, and set goals for learning. Of course, they also help manage Academic Coaches and Tutors who are typically older academically accomplished students.

Neumont's system of support for students from their first quarter to their last is key to the success of our graduates. Every student is encouraged to prioritize their education with a commitment to providing students with the resources they need to succeed.

Director of Student Affairs Corrine Padilla chats with students about the role of Unified Student Government at Neumont.

Director of Student Affairs Corrine Padilla chats with students about the role of Unified Student Government at Neumont.

Neumont's Top Five Advantages

Krista Smith

Neumont University is the premiere choice for students who want to launch a successful career in technology. Below are just a few reasons why students choose Neumont. 

Stellar results
97% of Neumont graduates are employed in their field within six months of graduation. And the average starting salary for those graduates is $63,000 a year. (For complete disclaimers regarding employment and compensation for our graduates, go here.) When you graduate with a bachelor's degree in the computer sciences from Neumont, you'll have the credentials and the experience needed to launch your career. Companies like Google, Microsoft, eBay, Yahoo, Nike, Blizzard Entertainment, HP, 343 Industries, and Amazon have hired our grads. 

Just like you
Neumont students are dedicated, driven tech-geeks. We are tech-obsessed. You could go from a class on object-oriented program to a lab in Java to a Magic the Gathering club in one afternoon on campus. It's just another day at Neumont. 

Computer science focus
We're all about computer science. From our degree programs to our general education courses, you'll always learn more about technology. Of course, the faculty are into the latest tech. And so are the staff. Everyone at our up-to-date campus agrees tech is the best. That's why, you'll find plenty of outlets, high-speed internet, and enterprise-grade wireless. That's not to mention the IS Server Lab, Gaming Bunker, and rooms dedicated to Enterprise Projects. 

Project-based  learning
Speaking of projects, students learn in a hands-on environment from day one. You'll learn to code by developing projects from the ground up. These real-world projects with clients will give you the experience you need to put together an impressive portfolio before you graduate. Through the Enterprise Project courses, Neumont has run 418 projects with 94 different companies all across the country. 

Earn your degree faster
You can earn your bachelor's degree in only three years by attending classes year-round. Our quarter-based, sprint system means you earn the credits required for graduation before your peers. You'll get a short break between each quarter, but there aren't any long summers to waste flipping burgers. 

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Are you ready to earn your degree faster, get the experience you need, and learn industry best practices? Apply now at www.neumont.edu/apply. Classes start this fall!

The best way to learn to code is to code

Neumont University

Each year, Capstone Project Invitational highlights Neumont University's commitment to project-based, hands-on learning by giving students a platform to present their products to each other, alumni, and our partners in the tech industry. 

In 2017, Tyler Berry's NU Code (a website for students to test their code chops) and Kyle Kacprzynski's Mydi Midi (a web app that writes music) were declared the winners. The other presenters include Christian Coreil (Geometry Workshop website), Joshua Stephens (mobile game engine), and Shawn McCuistion (game development algorithm). All five students will graduate with their bachelor's degrees in 2017. Watch the video to hear them describe their projects in their own words

Exactly how did these five students learn to develop projects on their own in two years?

Neumont's project-based approach to technology is designed to give students the skills they need to succeed in their careers before they graduate. This means, students work on meaningful projects from beginning to end through their education. The culmination of this experience is called, "Capstone Project." 

Before entering their senior year and working on real projects for real companies, all Neumont students must present a Capstone Project to faculty, staff, and classmates. The Capstone Project can be anything a student dreams up, from websites to apps to game engines to security authentication to business plans, students have brought all kinds of projects to reality in this course. Each student spends one quarter, or 10 weeks, developing their idea into a tangible product that can be presented. 

At the end of the year, faculty then invite the students with the most impressive projects to present at Capstone Project Invitational. The selected students present their projects to the entire student body, alumni, industry partners, and the Salt Lake community. After the presentations, a panel of alumni judges and a panel of industry partner judges select their favorites as winners. 

Neumont University's Keynote Speaker Commencement Address by Dr. Ludmil B. Alexandrov

Neumont University

On Wednesday, March 15, 2017, Neumont University Alumnus and Oppenheimer Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory Dr. Ludmil B. Alexandrov gave the speech below at the Commencement Ceremony celebrating the Class of 2017.

Dear graduates, dear members of the faculty and staff, dear parents, family, and loved ones – we have gathered today to share and to celebrate an important, dare I say, a milestone achievement.

To those of you graduating on this day, I offer my most sincere congratulations for successfully completing this stage of your formal education. I know that the past few years at Neumont have not been easy. I am sure that for many of you there have been numerous sleepless nights trying to finish a homework assignment, or attempting to meet a project deadline, or preparing for an important presentation. Now, it is the time to relax! It is the time to celebrate! You made it – you have finished your degree and moved to that ever elusive next level. Give yourself a round of applause! You really deserve it!

It is really an honor to be back at Neumont and to address this newly minted group of alumni. I have to confess that when Aaron Reed called me and invited me to present this commencement address, I was deeply flattered and I was completely overwhelmed. Without any hesitation, and with little thought about the task at hand, I accepted this honor. As time passed and the date for the speech came closer, I started realizing that I do not really know what to talk to you about. Of course, I did the most natural thing for a computer scientist – I went on the internet and I googled “how to write a great commencement speech”. As I learned from Google, the goal of a commencement speech is to plant a seed that will inspire the graduates towards a better path forward. This is indeed a daunting task and I am not quite sure whether I will be able to live up to this expectation.

In fact, I decided that the best approach is to tell you a story. To tell you a story of a fellow Neumont graduate. To tell you my story. And by telling you my story, I hope that I will be able to show you two things. First, that your education at Neumont will be invaluable in your future jobs, whatever these jobs might be and wherever these jobs might take you. And, second, I want to challenge you to not be afraid to follow your dreams, no matter how crazy these dreams might be and no matter where these dreams might take you.

It was almost exactly 10 years ago when I was in your position. I have just completed my education at Neumont and I was looking forward to going to my first serious job. I remember looking at a piece of paper. That same piece of paper many of you got today – your degree, your diploma. I also remember reflecting on my decision to come to Neumont for my bachelor’s degree.

At the time of my graduation, I did not know whether I have made the right choice. Whether the education at Neumont has been sufficient for paving the way towards a successful future career. Now, a decade later, I have absolutely no doubt. I know for sure. The foundation that Neumont gave me was not only sufficient to make me an exceptional employee of a fortune 500 company but this education also gave me the necessary courage and vision to apply what I have learned at Neumont into completely different fields. Indeed, I was able to take the project-oriented mentality and use it in all parts of my life including in my education and my scientific research.

I can still clearly remember my decision to become a student at Neumont University. I remember receiving a brochure in the mail, looking at it, and thinking – this place seems great for a person like me.

And what do I mean by a person like me? I have been passionate about programming since a very early age and I am sure that many of you share this early adoration for computers. My passion was first expressed in regards to playing computer games-a habit that still persists to this very day. As timed passed, I found it much more fascinating to program computers and to create my own games and my own tools. I deeply enjoyed programming and savored every moment of it.

During my time in high school, in all honesty, I was super nerdy.

At that time, I constantly participated in competitions for mathematics and informatics. Not only did I compete but I also deeply enjoyed being part of these competitions! When it came time to decide where to go for college, I knew that I wanted to go to a place of like-minded people. A place full with “nerds just like me”. A place that could educate me in cutting edge technologies. I understood the value of knowing mathematics, theory, and algorithms but I was more thirsty for learning hands-on technology skills necessary to solve the problems relevant today rather than solving the problems of yesterday.

I do clearly recall my very first day at Neumont’s campus – everyone around me was excited about various aspects of computer science and everyone was eager to learn. Indeed, it was a great place; it was almost a perfect place.

During my years at Neumont, its students, its staff, and its administration became like a family for me. The numerous hours spent developing projects brought us, the student at that time, together creating friendships that have endured the test of time. The projects we all worked on were not simply college assignments, rather, these projects became voyages that we took on together as teams, in some cases, these projects even became battles that we fought together.

The staff and administration of Neumont were ever present and always there to help and guide us throughout these journeys, making everyone’s time at the University truly unforgettable.

A few months after graduating from Neumont, I started my very first job as a business technology consultant at Deloitte Consulting. I was justifiably worried, as I did not know what would be expected from my first job. After my first week on the job, I was not worried any more. Not even the slightest bit.

The job as a consultant at Deloitte was so very similar to the many projects that I have done at Neumont and I knew exactly what I should do and when I should do it. In fact, I recall thinking that one of my enterprise projects was much more complicated than my current job as a consultant. To my surprise, the situation was rather different with my colleagues at Deloitte who came from other colleges. Many of them were indeed quite smart and they have completed their education at top universities across the country. However, what they lacked was the exposure to the rigorous project-based education and the type of thinking that Neumont has given me, and has also given you.

Most of my Deloitte colleagues were experiencing projects for the very first time and, naturally, they were struggling with this first encounter. After the first six months on the job, my manager came to me, he looked me in eye, and told me, “Ludmil, you really know what you are doing. You are operating on the next level we keep talking about. I think we should promote you as soon as possible." 

Indeed, I got this first promotion by the end of that fiscal year. In contrast, it took several years for most people from other universities to achieve this career step since they first needed to learn the rules of the game. The rules that I knew and you know from your time at Neumont. I should confess that this was not only my experience; many of my friends and classmates from Neumont were also excelling at their jobs with remarkable pace: getting promoted faster and receiving significant salary raises.

Indeed, what you probably do not realize at this moment but you will almost surely know within a few years is that your education at Neumont has provided you the necessary road map and experience to steer through the turbulent waters of corporate America. The completion of this rigorous education has given you both the necessary knowledge and the know-how to shine in your new jobs and to be more successful than you have ever imagined.

But going back to my story. After working for some time as a consultant, I discovered that I am extremely passionate about understanding scientific problems and, more specifically, about solving biological conundrums. It was an unexpected personal discovery and, in fact, it was a scary discovery. I felt valued and appreciated in my current job as a consultant. I also felt that my career was moving forward and I was being well compensated and promoted. In contrast, I was unsure whether I will be any good as a scientist, especially in a new field like biology. At that time, I remember thinking that while there is a good chance that I will fail as a scientist, if I do not try to be one, I will regret it for the rest of my life. Indeed, in parallel with my day job as a consultant, I started using my computational skills and training at Neumont to help scientists at Harvard with the analysis of large biological data sets. As time progressed, I found myself enjoying biological research more and more and I eventually I applied for a master’s program in Computational Biology at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

I was very blunt in my application essay – I wrote that I have limited knowledge in regards to biology and that I have a strong project-based computational education from Neumont. To my surprise, I was not only accepted at Cambridge but I was also given full funding to support my master and subsequently my doctorate studies.

I would later learn that my diverse academic background and education was an essential reason to get these scholarships. Nevertheless, going to a place like Cambridge was intimidating. Cambridge is a university that is more that 800 years old, it is older than most countries that currently exist. Cambridge has educated a big proportion of Nobel prizes winner and it has effectively created most of the modern fields of biology, physics, economics, and literature. To my dismay, completing my master's, and later my Ph.D., was much easier than I expected. Without realizing, the hands-on learning at Neumont has prepared me to educate myself on my own.

I was not reliant on lectures, rather, I looked at each class as a project and I developed a set of tools around it. For example, instead of simply readying and comprehending lectures in neuroscience, I developed various programs simulating neural networks, synaptic plasticity, single-neuron models, and many others. The ability to learn on my own and build projects from any topic allowed me to successfully complete my graduate studies and to develop a thread of science which has been novel and unique and has set the standard for future work in an important area of cancer research.

Ten years ago, I graduated from Neumont University and during the past decade I managed to go from a successful consultant to a respected scientist who is currently a co-investigator on one of the largest cancer research projects in the world. Reflecting on the past ten years, I can clearly appreciate that the education and foundation, which I received at Neumont, have been essential for my personal and my professional development. You may or you may not realize it today, but the education you have received will allow you to shoot for the stars. Ten years from now, many of you will be on the top of the world and I hope that you will be able to look back and to grasp the fundamental importance of completing this very first step. Of completing your education at Neumont!

Again, congratulations! Congratulations on finishing this phase of your life. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors and do not be afraid to change the world.

Thank you and good luck!