2020 grad makes himself, father proud with master’s degree in information technology
His father always dreamed he would someday earn a master’s degree. This May, Sairath Bhattacharjya made his father and himself proud, graduating with a Master of Science in Information Technology and finishing with a 4.0 grade point average.
“That smile on his face and the feeling was priceless,” Bhattacharjya said. “That was the proudest moment for me, and it felt like it meant something, something big and amazing.”
A native of Kolkata, West Bengal, India, 33-year-old Bhattacharjya moved to the United States in May of 2016, with his wife, Aparna, landing in Overland Park, Kansas. His dad and mom, along with a brother, sister-in-law and nephew, celebrated with him from afar this May as Bhattacharjya earned his degree and was a class speaker during the virtual graduation event.
He said he chose KU Edwards Campus because of its highly regarded reputation and its proximity to his home. While earning his degree, he participated in Jayhackers, KU’s Information Security Club that competes locally and regionally. But working and going to school full-time came with challenges. Read how Bhattacharjya overcame them and his advice to others.
Q: What has been a typical day in your life as a student attending KUEC?
A: I start my day by having breakfast with coffee and morning news update from Google and then driving my wife to her work and then come to the campus. Most of the days I would work either at the front desk or as a proctor in KU Student Services. Post that I would go pick up my wife and take her home before coming to attend class. After the class, I go back home, have dinner together with my wife and then watch something (anything) on Amazon Prime or Netflix together.
Q: What makes you the happiest?
A: Being a software developer, solving a complex issue or cracking a difficult code makes me the happiest. I love developing solutions and solving problems in the real world. Technology cannot solve many problems but can help provide the right information at the right time.
Q: What motivates you?
A: The pace in which technology grows and changes is fascinating. To keep up with it is a challenge in itself and that’s the most intriguing part about technology. When I started this journey 15 years ago back in college, I had a Nokia 1100 (remember that phone with a keypad and a snakes games on it!), and see where we have come today.
Q: Why did you choose KUEC?
A: I did a thorough research about the universities in Kansas and there were a few names that popped up. KU is a well-recognized and respected institution in the Midwest. And fortunately for me, the Edwards Campus was just five minutes from my apartment and was offering the exact course that I was looking for. It was an obvious choice. And I am happy that I chose this campus to start my higher education studies.
Q: How did KUEC meet your personal and/or academic needs?
A: Everyone in KUEC has been super helpful. I started talking to the advisors before joining the college and from then on I was amazed by the dedication that each and everyone in KU has for the betterment of the student. I learned a lot from all of my professors, colleagues, students and friends.
The method of education (in the master’s program) is excellent and trains you for the real world. The practical approach and the proper blend between academics and industry helped me in my process of pursuing a better career up ahead.
Q: How has your degree prepared you for the future?
A: I have gained practical insights from my degree and it helped me open the doors toward working with electronic devices (internet of things) and cloud computing. I am super excited about the possibilities of the merge. I am currently searching for a job and would love to land somewhere I can utilize the skills and knowledge that I gained here.
Q: What was the most difficult part of earning your college degree and how did you overcome it?
A: The most difficult part was time management. When I started my degree, I was working in Ad Astra Information Systems. I had a target of finishing my degree in a year and a half. So, I started full-time studies along with full-time work and it became very hectic. I had to prioritize my needs and I chose to concentrate on my degree since that was more important in the long run. I left my job and started full-time studies. I was lucky that Misty and Alex offered me a job as a student worker to keep up with my daily expenses. They were very helpful to me in this transition and guided me throughout the way. The best part of working as a student worker is that people around you acknowledge that students need to study and that’s the first priority. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to work with everyone of the KU staff at the Edwards Campus.
Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?
A: I moved from India here with my wife in December 2016 and my dad always wanted me to get a master’s degree. I was planning for this for a long time but didn’t have the means to take one up. I felt proud of completing the degree with a GPA of 4.0. That smile on his face and the feeling was priceless. That was the proudest moment for me and it felt like it meant something, something big and amazing.
Q: What is your favorite memory of your time at KUEC?
A: I can think of two memories:
It was for a project in the class IT 710. We were trying to perform a hack on a computer and whatever we tried was failing. Then one day Mike and I sat in the Hawk’s Nest and decided to try it out together. And out of the blue, it worked! We felt so proud and happy. We literally shouted out and then realized that everyone was looking at us. Felt a bit embarrassed after that though. Working with Mike was amazing and fun.
The next one was when KUEC organized the online commencement. I felt happy and proud to have the opportunity to deliver a speech to all the graduates. That was one of the best moments of my life.
Q: What are your long-term career goals and how do you plan to achieve them?
A: I am planning to use the skills and knowledge that I acquired here in the industry. Cybersecurity is a very important field in software development. I want to develop a security solution that can help secure devices and software. In the long-term, I want to be an architect designing such solutions to make a better tomorrow.
Q: What advice would you give others who are thinking of earning a degree, whether a first-time bachelor’s, a second bachelor’s or a master’s?
A: There is no right time to go back to studies. The most difficult part is to take that first step to decide to come back. Once you do that, everything else falls in place. It’s like the universe conspires with you to make it happen. And education always pays off in the long run. Go for it.
Learn more about the Master of Science in Information Technology from KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park, Kansas.