On a blustery winter day, Khondoker Yasin “Ahnaf” Prio ’19, arrived on the campus of the College of Minnesota Morris for his first semester of school. This vital second marked the beginning of a transformative journey for Ahnaf, who got here from Dhaka, Bangladesh. He was the primary of his household to maneuver to America in search of a better training outdoors of their homeland.
It’s on this campus and inside its partitions the place his future, hopes and ambitions took form—and the place his coronary heart was warmed by the life-long group of kinship he shaped.
“You could possibly be loads of issues in faculty. At Morris, you may be an individual who’s having fun with rigorous lecturers, an individual who actually enjoys sports activities or an individual who’s simply figuring themselves out,” Ahnaf stated. “However one thing you may by no means be at Morris is alone, as a result of Morris all the time brings a group that has your again.”
Ahnaf deliberate to pursue a level in physics and research pre-engineering for 2 years at UMN Morris after which switch to a bigger college. “At first, it was a little bit of a tradition shock as a result of I could not imagine how good the individuals have been. They held doorways open for me and talked to me in passing,” he described. “The switch by no means occurred as a result of I fell in love with the individuals at Morris, and I noticed it was the proper place for I.”
Ahnaf loved the numerous coursework and variety in school choices, particularly the liberal arts lessons. His outgoing, vibrant character made it simple to become involved in extracurricular actions on and off campus. Two of his favorites of his have been becoming a member of the pc science membership and being a founding member of the Muslim College students Affiliation. Ahnaf totally loved his immersive faculty expertise from him. However as his first spring semester wrapped up, he realized a physics main was not the appropriate match for him. He frightened he could have to return to Bangladesh if he couldn’t determine what to do subsequent.
Ahnaf spent the summer season with household in New York. “I believed I’d go to them after which return to Dhaka. I did not suppose I’d be capable of return to Morris as a result of I could not hold spending cash on a significant that wasn’t figuring out,” he shared. Whereas he was in New York, a household good friend requested him to construct a web site. Ahnaf didn’t know the best way to develop web sites or write code, however he has by no means shied away from a problem. His mindset of ‘simply determine it out’ kicked in, and he started to rapidly understand he was meant to make use of know-how to resolve issues. “I fell in love with constructing web sites and writing code. I had the best summer season ever,” Ahnaf stated.
He returned to the Morris campus within the fall with a renewed enthusiasm and dedication to modify his main to pc science. He related with Kristin Lamberty, an affiliate pc science professor at UMN Morris, and she or he helped him change course to pc science. “She made it tremendous simple and a great expertise. She helped me lay all the things out. I do not suppose I’d’ve been capable of graduate on time with out her,” Ahnaf stated. Lamberty is certainly one of many professors he credit for setting him up for achievement. “I felt like everybody genuinely needed to assist me succeed,” he defined. “They taught me that chance exists in each place and that it is OK to fail typically. It is a life lesson that has made it simpler to attempt new issues and put myself on the market.”
Ahnaf spent numerous hours within the pc labs, properly into the early morning hours, utterly absorbed within the know-how and determining options to technical obstacles. “I noticed I used to be staying after hours within the labs not due to the homework, however as a result of I cherished it,” Ahnaf stated. “I discovered one thing I used to be good at and actually loved. Not lots of people can say that.”
He additionally organized an off-the-cuff software program engineering membership with a couple of of his fellow classmates and pals to construct web sites for native companies that wanted help. They labored on many tasks collectively, calling themselves Megabittron, a reputation impressed by their class group title of their authentic software program design course. This urge for food for extra data, coupled along with his arduous work, helped him safe a paid internship on the UMN Morris Workplace of Sustainability as an engineering analyst. He wrote code that helped the workplace predict electrical energy consumption for your complete campus. “It was a tremendous alternative to do analysis about high sustainability packages, and the place helped me pay for my junior yr of school,” Ahnaf stated. He later turned a advertising and marketing technologist with the Workplace of Admissions the place he helped enhance their web site for worldwide pupil recruitment.
He attributes the connections and expertise he gained at UMN Morris with making ready him for an enterprise-level software program engineering internship he obtained in northeast Minneapolis throughout his senior yr. The fruits of Ahnaf’s UMN Morris training, dedication, and internships helped him appeal to the eye of Securian Monetary, a Fortune 500 firm in Minneapolis, shortly earlier than commencement in 2019. The corporate employed him proper out of school to work on their customer-facing interfaces , together with cellular apps and web sites. Ahnaf serves as a senior advisor on a staff of 15, has accomplished two main tasks from begin to end in three years, and he doesn’t plan to decelerate.
His love of studying and coding led him to collaborate with pals from Minneapolis and UMN Morris in a start-up enterprise in the course of the pandemic. They developed Tavolo, a eating app that permits customers to make reservations and pay for meals earlier than arriving on the restaurant for a sit-down meal. “I am an enormous foodie, and we needed to assist the restaurant business get again a number of the enterprise they misplaced throughout COVID,” Ahnaf defined. The app promotes a seamless, handy consumer expertise whereas serving to restaurant house owners make higher enterprise selections based mostly on real-time knowledge and operational intelligence.
Fifty within the Twin Cities space use the Tavolo platform, and Ahnaf expects that quantity eating places to extend to 100 by the top of 2022. “There’s a lot alternative to have interaction in cutting-edge knowledge and analytics to assist companies enhance their effectivity and operations. It is thrilling,” Ahnaf defined. In 2021, Tavolo was awarded the Rising Startup of the 12 months award by the Twin Cities Startup Week.
Even on this new enterprise, UMN Morris performs a major function by way of the relationships he has shaped. “I believe Morris ready me for the longer term in the easiest way doable. It despatched me out in the actual world realizing that there isn’t any drawback you’ll be able to’t remedy in case you put your coronary heart and thoughts to it. With correct dedication and perseverance, you will get by way of something,” Ahnaf defined. “My expertise there taught me many issues I nonetheless use in my every day life.”
Ahnaf stays in contact with many individuals he met at Morris, and he at the moment serves on the college’s Alumni Affiliation board of administrators as the primary worldwide pupil to take action. He seems ahead to his annual go to to the campus throughout homecoming week. This yr’s go to is additional particular as Ahnaf’s youthful brother plans to attend UMN Morris this fall.
Ahnaf continues to disclose within the real kindness and approachability of the scholars and workers, and he hopes his brother can have the identical expertise. UMN Morris supplied greater than a high quality training for Ahnaf; it supplied a way of dwelling, group, and fellowship he’ll all the time come again to. “I made so many friendships with college students, professors, workers, and the area people—even the campus itself. The college is bundle of pleasure in a close-knit group,” he stated. “If it was an individual, it will in all probability be my greatest good friend.”