Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.

–Michael Jordan

Is the American Dream still alive? Can anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, attain success through sacrifice and hard work? Depends on who you ask. If you ask African refugee and recent Boise Coding Dojo graduate Yamin Hakizimana, his answer would be a resounding “yes.”

In 2014, Yamin sought asylum and fled from Burundi due to ongoing conflict in the region. With hopes of finding new opportunities in America, he left his entire family behind and immigrated to Boise, Idaho. 

As Yamin settled in, he was astonished by the kindness of community members and their desire to help him succeed. That, and how cold Boise was! He found himself in a few dead-end jobs first at a meat-packing plant, and then as a landscaper for a few years.

He knew he needed to find a better job and wanted to go back to school, but it wasn’t a feasible option due to the time and money a traditional four-year degree required. Then, a friend introduced him to representatives at Trailhead, a local coworking space that also hosts the Coding Dojo Boise campus. The friend encouraged him to apply and after getting accepted, Yamin received financial assistance from his friends and the wonderful people at Trailhead.

Yamin was excited, but feared his lack of computer skills would hold him back:

I had no experience with computer science. I mean, I’ve seen computers and touched them, but didn’t know anything about typing and other stuff. I was super excited, but nervous.

His support network wasn’t quite finished – the nonprofit One Refugee even donated a laptop computer to Yamin to use during the 14-week program. With a computer in-hand, Yamin set off on his coding adventure.

Yamin watched countless YouTube tutorials and completed all of his pre-bootcamp tutorials to try and catch up. Even then, the first couple of weeks were a struggle. But little by little, the coursework started to click and Yamin’s bootcamp experience started to take off:

I just had to “go in,” because I loved it and obviously it was the thing I wanted to do with my life. I knew I wouldn’t get another opportunity. So I used everything I could to help myself.

He also surrounded himself with skilled developers to keep learning and quickly made new friends in the program. Yamin’s dedication started to pay off – as his understanding of the coursework grew, so did his confidence and problem-solving skills. As graduation approached, Yamin was excelling and on track to receive black belts (the highest grade) for all three stacks.

He did receive three black belts, and only three weeks after graduating, he received three job offers within the tech sector. Yamin ultimately decided on a developer role with the national software company VYNYL at their Boise office.

As he starts his new career, Yamin has some advice for anyone interested in learning to code:

Don’t be nervous, because there’s nothing to be nervous about. Stop thinking about how difficult it will be or the walls that have been built around you. You can go wherever you want to go.

So, what’s holding you back? What walls have you built around yourself? Get in touch with us to learn how we can help you get wherever you want to go.