Scholarship Spotlight: Shayan Hajiabadi | A. James Clark School of Engineering, University of Maryland
Shayan Hajiabadi
I am honored that I have been chosen. I think it was a great personal achievement that has given me more motivation and positive energy each semester.

UMD degree: B.S. in Computer Engineering, graduating Spring 2018

His path to the A. James Clark School of Engineering wasn’t direct. He didn’t grow up with dreams of becoming an engineer, or even with an interest in science or mathematics. In fact, it wasn’t until he enrolled at Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) that Shayan Hajiabadi discovered a talent—and passion—for engineering.

Now he's only credits away from a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, and has uncovered a new future for himself along the way.  

After living as an expatriate in Turkey for two years, Hajiabadi arrived in Maryland from his native country of Iran. At BCCC, he paid for classes and living expenses with personal savings and part-time wages. Through conversations with students and professors and partaking in college-level research, he realized he was both good at and interested in engineering. Hajiabadi kept an industrious schedule, adding Graduate Resources Advancing Diversity with Maryland Astronomy and Physics (GRAD-MAP) scholar and Institute for Genome Sciences intern to his resume.  

All his hard work paid off: in Fall 2016, Hajiabadi learned he had been awarded the A. James Clark Opportunity Scholarship for Transfer Students to study engineering at the University of Maryland. His gratitude for the much-needed financial assistance was and still is immeasurable.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, I'm at a 10 plus,” says Hajiabadi. “I am honored that I have been chosen. I think it was a great personal achievement that has given me more motivation and positive energy each semester.”

With the cost of school no longer a worry, he has been able to concentrate on engaging his mind in and out of the classroom. Last summer Hajiabadi undertook another 10-week internship, this time at UMD's Losert Lab exploring the area of biodynamics—specifically, how to image the brain to diagnose diseases—to gain more hands-on experience.

But it was his classes with Associate Professor Timothy Horiuchi and Assistant Professor Behtash Babadi and their work in computational neuroscience and machine learning that have inspired Hajiabadi to add “Ph.D. in electrical engineering” and “full-time researcher and professor” to his professional goals.  

For a motivated student who traveled more than 6,500 miles to pursue an education, the future now seems full of possibility. “I very much feel like the American Dream is now achievable,” says Hajiabadi.

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By Theresa C. Sanchez
Image: Al Santos