Shareef Ali

Shareef Ali in glasses and a blue shirt

Shareef Ali’s skills are in high demand. He was recruited for a full-time job three weeks into the fall semester. He decided to stay on and finish his degree in computer science, but a job with VTCSecure, an international provider of telecommunications access, awaits him after graduation.

“I began my open source [software for which the original source coding is made freely available] journey five years ago when I started school here at RIT,” says Ali, who is from Moorehead, Minnesota. “That early start has had a huge impact on my current job.”

Ali spends much of his time working on an open source video relay project for VTCSecure with NTID engineering faculty member Gary Behm. He works on building, debugging and testing systems related to 20 modules from various open source projects such as video compression.

“Sometimes I’m up until 3 a.m. trying to figure out a problem,” says Ali, who credits Behm as well as Brian Trager, faculty member in NTID’s Information and Computing Studies Department, with helping him grow and refine his skills in software development as well as softer skills such as effective workplace communication. “The professors at RIT understand disabilities, and that has a huge impact on my sense of belonging here,” says Ali, who has cerebral palsy in addition to being deaf.

This story appeared in the Spring/Summer 2016 issue of FOCUS Magazine.

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