Enes Kalinsazlioglu is a computer science student who aspires to be a full stack developer. A Wright Engineering Access Scholarship is assisting him in his studies in the College of Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University.
“My family has always faced financial struggles,” Kalinsazlioglu said. “When we lived together in Turkey, they worked hard to support me. Now I am on my own, having come to the United States to pursue a college education. I worked at a warehouse in order to save money for school and grant myself the independence necessary to completely focus on my studies. It was a physically demanding job, but my education was worth it.”
The Wright Engineering Access Scholarship is the premier scholarship program for the College of Engineering. It offers need-based and merit-based prizes to a diverse group of students, including nontraditional students and community college transfers, and Kalinsazlioglu, a rising senior, fits into both categories. For many Wright Scholars, the grant can minimize or eliminate the need for student loans or part-time work, allowing them to focus solely on their studies.
Kalinsazlioglu, who was born in the Turkish capital of Ankara, came to the United States in 2019. He landed in Richmond, initially staying in an Airbnb until acquiring a more permanent residence. In Turkey, Kalinsazlioglu learnt to troubleshoot and solve technical difficulties from his father, who managed a modest electronics repair shop. These early encounters with technology inspired him to pursue a degree in computer science.
“My undergraduate work started with community college while I continued to work, saving to eventually transfer to a four-year university,” Kalinsazlioglu said. “I wanted to break the cycle of poverty my family has endured and realize my full potential. After completing my associate degree, I applied to several universities, including VCU.”
When he was offered a Wright Engineering Access Scholarship, “I couldn’t believe it at first,” he said. “The scholarship is exactly what I needed to reduce my strenuous hours at the warehouse and focus on my education.”
Kalinsazlioglu’s move from Reynolds Community College to VCU was smooth. He attributes this to VCU’s partnerships with numerous two-year institutions, as well as the many other transfer students who made the journey with him, many of whom are now his friends.
Kalinsazlioglu mentioned diversity as a persuasive strength in his decision to attend VCU. Before opting to attend, he spent time on campus talking with students, instructors, and staff.
“The Wright Engineering Access Scholarship was a big reason why I decided to transfer to VCU, but the inclusivity at VCU and the College of Engineering made me feel right at home,” Kalinsazlioglu said. “Having worked to make myself a financially independent student, the values and practices of my chosen institution are important to me. My education is at the center of my life, and I am grateful to VCU Engineering for facilitating it. For that reason I continue to be diligent with my studies and maintain a 4.0 GPA.”
Kalinsazlioglu is loving his computer science studies now that he is immersed in high-level courses relating to his major. Introduction to the Theory of Computation, given by Daniel Cranston, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science, is a favorite course, according to Kalinsazlioglu, since it provided him with a different viewpoint on addressing problems and learning how to conceive with algorithms in mind. He obtained a summer internship through VCU Engineering Career Services job fairs.
“Enes performed extremely well in my class,” Cranston said. “He impressed me with his exceptional work ethic, attention to detail and a desire for deeper understanding of the course material, rather than just focusing on getting an answer.”
Kalinsazlioglu advises incoming students to connect with peers and form lasting relationships. “You never know what the future holds,” he said. “The bonds you form in college could be more important than you think.”
The Wright Engineering Access Scholarship was established with a gift from longtime VCU Engineering benefactor C. Kenneth Wright (H.D.L. ’11). For more, please visit https://egr.vcu.edu/giving/weasp/.