Student Success: Umair Khokhar

For Umair, earning an undergrad degree at ASU is just a stepping-stone toward reaching his end goal of becoming a doctor.

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For Umair Khokhar, earning an undergrad degree at Arizona State University in biology, focused in cell development and genetics, is just a stepping-stone toward reaching his end goal of pursuing medical school and becoming a doctor.

When Umair started his undergraduate journey, he knew he was in for a lengthy medical school journey, and so began seeking out unique personal and professional experiences to maximize his on-campus involvement. After Umair received an email about an opening with Education at Work for a part-time customer support position, he was immediately interested in the opportunity. Not only was it on-campus, but would also help him gain work experience while reducing his reliance on student loans and parental support.

Umair has now been working for Education at Work (EAW) since June of 2016 and has quickly risen to a student leadership role.  He was promoted to EAW’s Workforce Management (WFM) team to support student scheduling. Through scholarships and EAW’s tuition assistance program, Umair has been able to cover his tuition expenses and ease the financial burdens for his parents.  Now he is in a position to not rely on his parents for his undergraduate and post-graduate education. Instead, his parents are able to more easily cover the smaller financial gap that’s leftover for items such as college textbooks, living expenses, etc.

EAW has not only helped Umair with his financial future, but has also taught him valuable professional skills. On the WFM team, Umair has learned specific on-the-job skills like how to sort through and analyze workforce data.  He has become more efficient at identifying and pulling out what's important in the dataset. This is a skill will transfer directly to patient care in a hospital one day, as a communicator and evaluator. As Umair explains, “I honestly enjoy helping people, knowing that I've made someone's day better, there's no other feeling like it, and EAW is helping me grow to do that!”

An EAW Escapade: ASU’s Outreach Team Escapes the Room!

Education at Work’s ASU Educational Outreach Team escaped in exactly 44 minutes and 16 seconds! Escaped from what you may ask?

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Education at Work’s ASU Educational Outreach Team escaped in exactly 44 minutes and 16 seconds!  Escaped from what you may ask?  The Escape Room Challenge near EAW’s ASU center!

The ASU Outreach Team, led by Amanda Nash, took on the Attic Escape Challenge.  The team had an hour to escape the Attic before the new “homeowners” arrived on the scene. The team was tasked with finding their “inheritance” left by their deceased grandparents. The stash included hidden cash, stocks and bonds, and the family jewelry.  If they couldn’t find their inheritance in time, the new “homeowners” would stake claim to the inheritance when they arrived!

Once the Attic door was closed, sealing our team in the room, a video message appeared from the grandparents with some clues to get started.  A glance around the room showed bookshelves with different volumes of encyclopedias, a collection of porcelain dolls, a bicycle on the wall, flowers, and old linens. Furniture strewn about included an armoire, a chest, as well as end tables with locked drawers.  All around the room were various kinds of locks and clues, waiting for our team to unlock and discover the treasures within.


Our team had to collaborate to decipher the clues, decode messages in braille, while working together to find hidden clues.  They found the hidden cash first, but the jewelry was still missing along with the stock and bonds.  It took great imagination as well as memory to put the clues together to finally discover the jewels.

The second to last task required finding a hidden door and secret room that led to a lock box.  But what was the code, and would the stocks and bonds be inside?  Through calculated analysis, our team quickly determined the lock box code and voila! The stocks and bonds were inside.

The final task was to get out of the Attic using one of the hundreds of available keys. This challenge was not easy, yet the ASU Outreach Team refused to give up. Even in moments when it seemed like the escape was not going to happen in time, the team bonded together and worked through it.

At EAW, experiential learning is an important means to practicing skills learned in day-to-day business activities. Going offsite to enjoy a fun filled “adventure” is just one of the ways we engage our full-time staff and student-employees to practice group thinking, collaboration, time management and leadership. We’re glad the Attic Escape Challenge did just that, and allowed our team to enjoy a fun and suspense-filled success!


Empowering the Consumer Voice to Transform Postsecondary Education

Strada Education Network is proud to partner with Gallup, the world leader in consumer insights.

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Author:  Bill Hansen
Strada Education Network President & CEO

Strada Education NetworkSM is proud to partner with Gallup, the world leader in consumer insights, to launch the Education Consumer Pulse.

Through 350 daily interviews of U.S. adults aged 18-65, this three-year survey will create the largest set of education consumer insights in the nation to date. We believe understanding the consumer’s perspective is critical to addressing the many issues facing postsecondary education today. It is distressing to know that students have more educational and training options than ever before, and still too many are not completing what they start when it comes to their education or falling short with the skills employers need in the 21st century workforce.

As Strada Education Network looks to advance Completion With a Purpose®, we know that understanding these insights is essential to finding solutions that work for students and postsecondary education providers. That’s why the Education Consumer Pulse is so groundbreaking. Never before have these data been captured at such depth and scale, allowing us to look at subgroups of the population not only by age, sex and race, but also by education attainment levels and career industries.

On Second Thought: U.S. Adults Reflect on Their Education Decisions,” the first report in a three-year series from the Education Consumer Pulse, was shaped by examining nearly 90,000 interviews of U.S. adult education consumers. It establishes a baseline understanding of how consumers perceive their education experiences when reflecting on their past decisions. Specifically, the report details whether these consumers would take the same educational path — same degree, same major or same institution — if they had the opportunity to do it all over again.

Surprisingly, more than half (51 percent) of U.S. adults say they would change at least one aspect of their education path. Most notably, people would change their field of study (36 percent), while 28 percent would choose a different school, and 12 percent would pursue a different degree.

So many other industries use this type of data to spark innovation and transform their services to better meet consumer needs. At Strada Education, we believe the same approach is needed in postsecondary education. When coupled with existing data, these nuanced insights are powerful tools for postsecondary leaders, policymakers, educators, employers and other education consumers.

Consumers’ perspectives shed light on major issues facing postsecondary education in the U.S., such as career guidance and the role postsecondary education plays in addressing our nation’s growing skills gap. Strada Education Network was created to help bridge this growing gap with tailored solutions and insights. Our nonprofit is focused on Completion With a Purpose® — helping students achieve a more purposeful path to and through college and on to rewarding careers and fulfilling lives. This means students graduate high school and pursue the postsecondary education or training that is most relevant to their career aspirations & lifestyle goals.

The Education Consumer Pulse is a key to gathering information about the experiences of the U.S. education consumer to better equip students to achieve these goals and create paths to take them where they want to go in their lives.


These insights also lay an important foundation as we begin to measure how many U.S. adults are achieving Completion With a Purpose, to help inform postsecondary education and workforce development policies and best practices. We believe empowering students to understand their options and define their path is the key to unleashing their potential, thereby ensuring our nation’s economic growth and prosperity.

We hope that, starting with this report, the Education Consumer Pulse will serve as a catalyst for deeper exploration and application of these consumer insights to help shape the future of postsecondary education. We don’t presume to know all the answers, but we believe that by listening to consumers and elevating their voice in the national conversation, we’ll arrive at better solutions together.


Click to view the original post on the Strada Education Network blog.



Student Spotlight: Archaeology Excavation Inspires Anthropology Major

My name is Je’Miah Cannon and I’m a full-time supervisor with Education at Work.

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My name is Je’Miah Cannon and I'm a full-time supervisor with Education at Work. This past spring, I had the pleasure of interning with the Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) in its archeology lab at the Geier Research Facility. In the archeology lab, I was responsible for cleaning, sorting, and cataloging artifacts that were excavated from the Hahn Native American site. In fifteen weeks, I was able to build a digital database with Microsoft Access for cataloging rare artifacts from the collections department. I organized the database and assigned a catalog number to over 2,000 artifacts. Through my experience with Education at Work (EAW), where I have worked since October of 2013 as a student-employee and as a supervisor, I have learned technical skills while working with many computer programs and applications. These skills gave me an advantage over the other interns at the CMC who did not have the same experience with similar software. Building the database made a major contribution to the research in the lab because the team of archeologists could now search for artifacts digitally in a matter of seconds, instead of spending time searching through countless handwritten or printed records.


My success with the database led to an invitation to help with a live excavation in Over-the-Rhine from the head curator of archeology for the CMC, Bob Genheimer. This opportunity gave me a huge advantage for the core major classes, which I will take this fall, because most students do not get the opportunity to actually work in the field of archeology before taking their first anthropology course. This internship experience has allowed me to grow both academically and professionally, and played a significant role in my decision to continue in this field of study. Working in a student-friendly environment like EAW has also instilled in me the importance of efficiently managing my time and prioritizing my schedule. I have grown as an employee by learning to successfully balance a full-time job, an internship, and college classes. Upon completion of my internship with the CMC, I graduated with honors from Cincinnati State Technical and Community College with an Associate of Arts degree.


I will continue my education at the University of Cincinnati in the fall to pursue bachelor’s degrees in both cultural and biological anthropology with a focus in genetics and African Studies. My research will include the diaspora of Africans into America during slavery, and the biological, psychological, and social effects present in the African American community today as a result of structural economic and political constraints at the local, national, and global levels. My long-term goal is to start my own non-profit organization that promotes education as a solution to many of the issues plaguing the inner city neighborhoods of Cincinnati.

Being a part of EAW as it grows into a powerful advocate of affordable higher education is inspiring for me as I strive for my personal future goals. It has provided insights into the day-to-day operations and behind the scenes aspects to running a company. Additionally, working in a professional environment while completing my degree has helped me develop communication and networking skills, and I feel very comfortable navigating through the professional world. EAW creates a ripple effect for emerging leaders who want to go out to tackle tough problems and make the world a better place, and it is an honor to be a part of this team.


Student Spotlight: A Summer Splash with EAW

I keep hearing that inequality and flawed systems have killed the American Dream.

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Luis Forero, Siliva Cubides, Daniel Forero, and Laura Forero immigrated to the United States in 2001 from Colombia.

I keep hearing that inequality and flawed systems have killed the American Dream. Today’s news is littered with social and political turmoil so discouraging that it shakes me to my core. However, I firmly believe that the American Dream, which once fueled the entire nation, is still alive and well. Through my story, I intend to inspire those of you who have given up hope.

James Truslow Adams coined ‘the American Dream’ in his 1931 book The Epic of America. He described this ideology as, “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with the opportunity for each according to their ability or achievement.”  With this declaration, he wasn’t referring to a purely material prosperity, but rather the idea that every individual could have the opportunity to succeed without social barriers. This very promise is what inspired my parents, Luis Forero and Silvia Cubides, to sell everything they owned and say goodbye to their loved ones to come to the United States. When all was said and done, they had $5,000—$2,000 of which was spent on plane tickets—in their pockets and were hauling two kids under the age of 10 with only relentless faith to keep them moving.

Luis Forero and Silvia Cubides | Colombia, 1990

I was born in Bogota, Colombia, a city seemingly identical in size and diversity as New York City or Chicago, but in reality plagued by classism and tainted with a dark reputation. Colombia is by no means impoverished or underdeveloped, but job security and opportunity are fleeting luxuries shared between 48 million people. In 2000 when my parents decided to move to the United States, my father was a well-educated civil engineer whose only fault was being an ambitious man in a country with little opportunity for growth. He found himself unemployed after yet another year of working odd jobs, as life had pushed him, his wife, and his two young children to a region outside of the city that promised only an unstable future. They were not the only family in these circumstances, but it was my parents’ bold decision to move to the United States and risk everything for a better future that made them different. In this was and still is the American Dream.

During the past 17 years, my family has endured racism and prejudice not unlike many other immigrants. However, the American Dream is not for the easily offended or the unambitious. This ideology is about opportunity; opportunity that is obtained through hard work and fierce ambition. Some may say opportunity is scarce, but I believe opportunity is everywhere; you just have to have the right mindset to appreciate it. In this spirit I found Education at Work, the organization that changed my life.

I knew from a very young age that if I were to pursue higher education, it would come out of my pocket. Because of this, my focus has always been academically oriented because I knew that scholarships were my only avenue to affordable higher education. Despite my efforts, I started college in August of 2013 facing about $9,000 of out-of-pocket tuition per year.

After two years of living with my parents and saving every dollar I earned from babysitting to pay for tuition, I began to consider transferring or taking a year off to catch up financially. However, God had a different plan for me in mind because that is when I found Education at Work.

The same resilient spirit that fueled my parents and now fuels me, I have seen manifested in every student that I’ve had the pleasure of working with at Education at Work. Education at Work is an organization that is fueled by ambitious students who recognize the value of having a college degree and refuse to let the weight of high tuition costs inhibit their futures. Each of their stories are as colorful as mine and filled with hope for this American Dream. I will graduate in May of 2017 having earned $12,000 in tuition assistance and prepared to excel in any career I choose thanks to the experiences I have gained while working in this inspiring organization.

So for those of you who have given up on the American Dream, I beg that you reconsider. I will introduce you to 500 Education at Work student-employees across the nation who have looked beyond the voices telling them they will fail in pursuing a stronger and brighter future. That, to me, looks an awful lot like living the Dream.

About Laura Forero

Xavier University Student

Laura Forero has been the Marketing Intern for Education at Work since August of 2015. She is currently a senior at Xavier University studying Public Relations and Advertising with a minor in Digital Media. She enjoys reading, writing, and following a good PR crisis unfold in modern day media. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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