This piece, written by Gordana Goudie, originally appeared on the Georgia Tech Professional Education website.
If only I could have a computer.
These are the words that changed Esterling Accime’s life forever. This wish – and an insatiable hunger to learn – saved him from a life of extreme poverty in Haiti. Today, he holds his dream job as a software engineer for AT&T in the U.S.
Hunger to Learn
As a teenager, Accime lost his mother and decided to move from the northeastern part of the island to the capital, Port-au-Prince, to try to get a better education. Instead, he found hardship. “I lived on less than $10 per month and sometimes struggled to eat,” he explained. When it came to school, his situation was just as difficult. He attended a public high school, which sometimes had no teachers. He also found that his classmates had no interest in education, which could be blamed on a lack of access and resources. Despite the setbacks, his will to keep learning never wavered.
A Glimmer of Hope
After landing his first job as a translator, through a pastor at his church, he met a missionary. Having heard about the challenges Accime was facing, she asked him what she could do to help. The answer he gave her led to the turning point in his life. “If only I could have a computer, I could learn anything,” he told her. She sent it to him. He taught himself about computers and got his next job as a computer technician. Now he had hope, but there were more hurdles to come.
Persisting in a New Country
In 2015, he moved to the U.S. with few formal qualifications but with a determination to succeed. His first job required no computer skills. “I worked as a dishwasher,” he said. “I washed thousands of dishes per night.” Undaunted, he persisted and found his next job as a computer technician. He quickly advanced to a management role, which brought him a little closer to his dream. But he wasn’t there yet.
When Everything Changed
Then he heard about GTPE’s Full Stack Flex Web Development Certificate program, also known as Coding Boot Camp. He signed up in early 2017, and a new chapter in his story began. “Everything changed when I joined the Coding Boot Camp,” he said. Halfway through the 24-week program, he discovered he was in demand. “I started receiving calls from recruiters and setting up interviews.”
Before the program was over, Accime had accepted a job as a software engineer with AT&T. He credits the Full Stack Flex Web Development Certificate program for his success. “The program exceeded my expectations,” he shared. “I’ve always wanted to be a web developer. Instead, it made me a full stack web developer.”
Teaching to Learn
Now that he has his dream job, what’s next for Accime? For one, he’s not done learning. “The best way to learn is to be able to teach what you’ve learned,” he stated. And he knows exactly where his teaching is needed most. Despite his success in his new country, he hasn’t forgotten where his story began.
Changing the World
He’d like to go back to Haiti and teach others who are in the same situation in which he once found himself. “In Haiti, there is a big division between the rich and the poor. The poor don’t have the same access to education and career opportunities, so I often felt I had no real hope. I was on my own,” he said. “I know there are a lot of folks out there on the same path… but they still have that hunger to learn.” He believes if someone like him could offer a helping hand to people in need at critical moments in their lives, together they can change society – and even the world.
Watch the full interview with Esterling Accime: