Donate here on May 3 to support the College of Engineering during VCU’s 2023 Giving Day. Together, we can educate the next generation of engineers
Enes Kalinsazlioglu is a computer science undergraduate who dreams of becoming a full stack developer. A Wright Engineering Access Scholarship recipient, the award helps Kalinsazlioglu overcome financial hardship, allowing him to focus on building a strong foundation in the core concepts of computer science.
“My family has always faced financial struggles,” Kalinsazlioglu said. “When we lived together in Turkey, they worked hard to support me. Now I am on my own, having come to the United States to pursue a college education. I worked at a warehouse in order to save money for school and grant myself the independence necessary to completely focus on my studies. It was a physically demanding job, but my education was worth it.”
Born in Ankara, Turkey, Kalinsazlioglu immigrated to the United States in 2019. He settled in Richmond, temporarily living in an Airbnb before securing a more permanent home. Kalinsazlioglu’s father owned a small electronics repair shop in Turkey, where he learned how to troubleshoot and solve technical problems. These early experiences with technology led him to pursue a computer science degree.
“My undergraduate work started with community college while I continued to work, saving to eventually transfer to a four-year university,” Kalinsazlioglu said. “I wanted to break the cycle of poverty my family has endured and realize my full potential. After completing my associates degree, I applied to several universities, including VCU. It’s then I received word VCU would offer me the Wright Engineering Access Scholarship. I couldn’t believe it at first. The scholarship is exactly what I needed to reduce my strenuous hours at the warehouse and focus on my education.”
Kalinsazlioglu’s transition to VCU from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College was seamless. He credits this to the relationships VCU has with many two-year institutions and also the many other transfer students making the transition with him, many who are now his friends. When asked, “Why VCU?”, Kalinsazlioglu cited diversity as a key strength. He spent time at the campus interacting with students, faculty and staff before making his decision to enroll.
“The Wright Engineering Access Scholarship was a big reason why I decided to transfer to VCU,” Kalinsazlioglu said. “But the inclusivity at VCU and the College of Engineering made me feel right at home. Having worked to make myself a financially independent student, the values and practices of my chosen institution are important to me. My education is at the center of my life and I am grateful to VCU Engineering for facilitating it. For that reason I continue to be diligent with my studies and maintain a 4.0 GPA.”
Now deep in his major-related, high-level courses, Kalinsazlioglu is enjoying his experience learning about computer science at the VCU College of Engineering. Introduction to the Theory of Computation taught by Daniel Cranston, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science, is a favorite course because it gave Kalinsazlioglu a new perspective on approaching problems and learning how to think with algorithms in mind. He has also secured a promising summer internship through the job fairs hosted by VCU Engineering Career Services.
“Enes performed extremely well in my class,” said Cranston. “He impressed me with his exceptional work ethic, attention to detail and a desire for deeper understanding of the course material, rather than just focusing on getting an answer.”
Kalinsazlioglu advises incoming students to connect with peers and form lasting relationships. “You never know what the future holds,” Kalinsazlioglu says. “The bonds you form in college could be more important than you think.”
The Wright Engineering Access Scholarship was established with a generous gift from longtime benefactor C. Kenneth Wright (H.D.L. ’11). It is VCU Engineering’s flagship scholarship program that gives need- and merit-based awards to a wide range of students, including nontraditional students and community college transfers. For many Wright Scholars, this award means being able to focus exclusively on academics without having to take on part-time jobs. When combined with internships and co-ops, this program can reduce — and even eliminate — the need for student loans.
For more information on how to support VCU Engineering students, visit our giving website. Your contribution, of any amount, can help transform countless lives.