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April 27, 2016
|Nagababu Rellacharla and Aamani Kalepu have completed their master’s degrees in applied computer science and secured full-time positions in the Kansas City area. (Photo by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)|
Imagine, for a moment, being newly married, quitting your job and investing all of your savings to enroll in a graduate program in a foreign country – in hopes of enhancing your professional opportunities.
That’s exactly what Nagababu Rellacharla and Aamani Kalepu did in December 2014 when they made the decision to leave Hyderabad, India, and enroll in Northwest Missouri State University’s master’s program in applied computer science.
The couple had been married for 18 days when they boarded a flight for New York on New Year’s Eve 2014. Eventually, they landed in Kansas City and began their coursework on Jan. 4, 2015.
Rellacharla and Kalepu had earned their bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering in India four years earlier. Both were employed – Rellacharla in web application programming development and Kalepu in software development – but they wanted to enhance their understanding of programming.
“We thought we needed improvement in our programming languages, and the improvement should be practical-oriented because we are doing implementation of the languages, or we are developing software applications for different domains,” Rellacharla said.
The couple had heard about Northwest from friends in India who attended the University. They were attracted to Northwest by the profession-based coursework and applied after reviewing information about the computer science program on the University’s website.
“Other universities focus on research areas, and that is useful if you’re going to do a Ph.D.,” Rellacharla said. “Our goal is to work in the software industry and program development, so for that purpose Northwest is the best college.”
At Northwest, they were motivated by their own aspirations as well as the expectations of their parents. Following cultural norms in India, Rellacharla and Kalepu sought permission from both sets of parents to marry, but garnering their support for a move to the United States was more challenging.
“It was a very big step immediately after marriage coming here because our parents were not fully convinced by the time we were marrying, and when we said we wanted to go for higher studies they were in real shock,” Kalepu said.
Northwest’s affordability also made the move attractive to Rellacharla and Kalepu. But they came with only enough money to cover their first trimester. They had no financial assistance.
They submitted resumes to faculty members on their first day of classes in hopes of securing graduate assistantships to earn necessary funds to continue the master’s program. Faculty told the students they would be evaluated on their coursework and academic performance during that first trimester to be considered for the positions.
Both not only met those expectations during that first trimester and were awarded with graduate assistantships. They succeeded on regular exams and challenging projects, earning a 4.0 grade-point average throughout the program.
They succeeded, they said, with the guidance of faculty members – including Dr. Carol Spradling, Dr. Doug Hawley and Dr. Ajay Bandi – who met them on their level.
“Northwest gave us a unique opportunity to excel in our skills, not only in education, but in terms of the interpersonal and communication skills and the practical skills,” Rellacharla said.
As a result, Rellacharla has secured full-time employment at Cerner. Kalepu has been hired as a programmer for Walmart.
“After getting practical knowledge of programming languages, Cerner gives me a chance of implementing those into real-world projects,” Rellacharla said. “Cerner gives an opportunity to apply the skills I learned.”
Kalepu added, “Northwest has laid us a very bright future.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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