Ivan, 18, lives with his mother in Volgograd, Russia. He says he never had second thoughts regarding his choice of profession; he has been passionate about math and computer science ever since he was a kid. But there was some concern that his disability might prevent him from getting the necessary education to pursue his passion. There is a multitude of college preparatory courses available in Russia, but they rarely offer distance learning courses, which were critical if Ivan was going to attend high school and a pre-entry course at the same time.
An excellent opportunity arose for Ivan when he learned about the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative and the “Tvoy Kurs” project. “Tvoy Kurs: IT4Youth” is a project offered by Microsoft Russia targeting thousands of high-school teenagers (9-11 graders) in order to encourage, facilitate and develop a career in the rapidly growing IT industry. The career guidance is followed by basic coding classes and IT entrepreneurship trainings. Some Tvoy Kurs centers also offer community engagement opportunities.
Critically, the program enabled Ivan to acquire the necessary IT knowledge without having to leave home. Volgograd-based “Tvoy Kurs” tutors gave classes, assigned homework and checked Ivan’s work and results – all online. In addition, the volunteers visited him at home to help with assignments that required personal guidance.
With such support and the newly acquired skills, Ivan was able to enroll for a Bachelor’s Degree, specializing in applied Computer Science, at one of Volgograd’s biggest higher education institutions: the Volgograd State Agrarian University. He is currently in his second year, already making bold plans for the future.
After his graduation, Ivan plans to get a job with a large IT company, buy a home of his own and start a family: every young man’s dream, one might say. But for Ivan, living his dream is also a genuine personal triumph, made possible through the power of technology.