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Mohammed Wardeh Needed a Second Chance–with Trilogy, He Got One

Written by Stephen Eichinger on Jan 1, 2020

Related content: Higher Education, Outcomes

When the Syrian War erupted, Mohammed Wardeh was stuck. Struggling to make ends meet in NYC, he had planned on returning to Syria for financial support. Now, going home was akin to a death sentence.

“I had no country. No money. And a family,” said Mohammed. “I was done.”

As violence ravaged Syria, Mohammed tossed through sleepless nights wondering how to protect his wife and young children. “I didn’t know what to do, so I applied for political asylum,” he said. “I told them my story.”

Three words changed everything

A year later, Mohammed walked into an immigration office and heard three words that changed everything: Welcome to America.

Green card in hand and a sense of security achieved, he immediately thought, “I have to give something back.” With that, Mohammed resolved to put gratitude in action. He didn’t have money to spare, so instead he gave time, joining the Army National Guard as a way of thanking his new country.

From one boot camp to another

While Mohammed’s green card transformed his reality, life in the U.S. was still demanding—and the Wardeh family continued to struggle financially.

“I needed a chance,” said Mohammed. That’s when he saw an ad for Rutgers Coding Boot Camp, powered by Trilogy Education, a 2U, Inc. brand. This is it, he thought.

Eager to find career advancement in America, Mohammed enrolled.

Making every penny count

For the next six months, Mohammed immersed himself in the world of coding. “I was living boot camp,” he said. “Breathing boot camp.”

When faced with challenges, Mohammed channeled strength by thinking of his children. “They motivated me to get through boot camp,” he said. “I looked at my babies, who were now walking—talking to me in a broken language, stuttering, doing funny things—and that’s when I felt the real burden of responsibility.”

“I sold my car to pay for boot camp. I sold every last penny I had in the world,” he added. “That money was my children’s money, so I needed to make each and every penny pay off.”

And pay off it has.

A second chance at life

“Coding boot camp gave me another shot at life,” said Mohammed.

At Rutgers, he learned to learn—picking up both professional and personal skills. “The Army taught me physical resilience,” he said. “Rutgers taught me mental resilience. Both of them are called boot camps for a reason.”

As a result of his hard work in the classroom, Mohammed secured a front-end web development position with the U.N.—before boot camp had even ended.

He credits Rutgers’ rigorous curriculum for helping him secure this job. “The tech stack they teach is top-of-the-line,” said Mohammed. “And the curriculum is always being improved. They’re always keeping up with the market.”

Going back—and giving back

After graduating, Mohammed decided to give back by returning to Rutgers Coding Boot Camp—this time, as a TA. “Being a TA gave me a new perspective,” he said. “I was seeing how this boot camp was changing lives.”

As a TA, Mohammed loved watching student success stories unfold in the classroom. “Every week, I get LinkedIn notifications telling me to congratulate another student on their new job,” said Mohammed. “It’s not a story I’m simply hearing. I’m seeing it with my own eyes—they became what they wanted to be.”

Where passion meets purpose

In February 2019, Mohammed was invited to represent Rutgers Coding Boot Camp as a guest speaker at Trilogy’s annual summit. There, a short video highlighting Mohammed’s journey was shared. Surveying the audience, Mohammed was amazed to see how many people recognized him—and how many people cared.

Among those who cared was Trilogy CTO Jay Chakrapani—who, much to Mohammed’s surprise, mentioned a potential full-time job opportunity on Trilogy’s tech team. Similar to other great things in his life, it wasn’t something Mohammed had predicted.

Setting missions in motion

In September 2019, Mohammed accepted the position Jay had alluded to: a full-time role as a software engineer at Trilogy. His first week was filled with introductions, many of which were unnecessary—the video from Trilogy’s annual summit had made the rounds.

For Mohammed, this was another affirmation of why life had brought him to Trilogy. From the recognition in his colleagues’ eyes, it was clear that boot camp students weren’t statistics—they were success stories.

“Trilogy works with a purpose,” said Mohammed. “They take their mission personally, and that’s why they’re successful. They want you, as a person, to become better. They instill resilience. They teach you to keep pushing.”

The pursuit of knowledge

For Mohammed, working at Trilogy is more than a career—it’s a commitment to lifelong learning.

After he completes his first year at Trilogy, Mohammed will be eligible to apply to 2U-powered master’s programs—and, if admitted, 2U will cover his tuition. He’s already excitedly exploring potential options, including computer engineering programs at Syracuse University and Vanderbilt School of Engineering.

“Boot camp made me a learning machine,” said Mohammed. “You learn, you get rewarded—and then you want more.”

Looking in the mirror

Mohammed came to America with a dream—and because of Rutgers Coding Boot Camp, it has finally become his reality. “Trilogy changes lives,” said Mohammed. This he knows with complete certainty. How?

“Because they changed mine.”

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