A Student's Success, Fueled by a Setback

November 4, 2022

Asher Khan faced a setback early on in his NOVA college experience. Life happened to him, and he was not able to continue on his path toward a college degree. He took a break from college, but when he finally did return, Khan flipped that setback on its head! He used that bad experience as a catalyst to push himself and really excel in his college career.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background: 

My family immigrated to this country around 2007 from Bangladesh, and I grew up in D.C. for most of my life.

In Spring 2018, I started at NOVA. The workload from high school to college is vastly different. I was a full-time student, worked full-time and lived in Northwest D.C. But the commute to the Alexandria campus was difficult and cost me a significant amount of my time.

I consistently showed up on time for my classes but was sometimes late for work. When I had a class after work, that meant lots of traveling. By the end of the semester, I was exhausted, performed poorly academically, and lost my financial aid. I was discouraged and failed to continue my education.

Fast forward to 2020, with a little encouragement from my family, I returned to NOVA to continue working on my degree.

What brought you to NOVA?

As a senior in high school, I was unsure how to get started with my higher education. I knew I wanted to pursue a degree in international relations, and NOVA was perfect start for me. NOVA is affordable and I found a lot of mentors and resources to help me along my journey.

What are you studying at NOVA?

I am pursuing a degree in international relations. 

Tell Us About Your Experience at NOVA; i.e., professors you’ve liked and friends you’ve met.

I've met some amazing professors and recall working with Professor Kate O’Leary on my English papers. I learned a lot from her classes.

In 2020, I had to enroll as a part-time student to improve my academic standing. This allowed me to seek out extracurricular activities which was a paradigm shift in my college experience.

I started participating in the "Circle of Change Leadership Conference" and the International Friends (IF) organization. Through the IF program, I have met many people from different backgrounds and have immersed myself in different cultures. I have been able to relate with everyone in the CCI (Community College Initiative) exchange program at NOVA and at IF - because I grew up in the States as an immigrant. These experiences helped shape my growth.

What would you tell a student coming to NOVA?

NOVA is inviting to everyone. In my experience, your college experience is directly related to "how you put yourself out there." There are many opportunities here besides classes and homework. The campuses are nice to visit and convenient for someone working while in school.

For me, the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), in which has a "transfer gateway" program allows for guaranteed admissions as well as a seamless credit transfer - is a powerful tool. Many well-known four-year institutes participate in the program; like some of my prospects, such as the University of Virginia, the George Washington University and George Mason University. I think starting at NOVA, in which is one of 23 colleges under VCCS - is a great "jumping off point" for anyone looking to earn their associate's and their bachelor's.

NOVA allows you to grow both professionally and academically. There is flexibility with how you want to pursue your education, whether full-time, part-time, in-class or virtual.

Since my setback in 2018, I resumed my education. I achieved a satisfactory academic performance and became recognized on the Dean's List. I recently completed my 45-credit milestone and hope to transfer to a four-year university. I have faced many obstacles throughout my journey, but I have been learning to overcome and persevere.

Where do you see yourself after NOVA or what career pursuits are you exploring?

After months of hard work, I earned a certification in Security+. Recently, my interests shifted. My goal is to transition professionally into the field of cloud security.