Alumni in Action: Zack Quraishi

CCA Alumni Zack Quraishi reflects on CCA giving him a sense of home after moving to the United States, working for the IT department, and getting his start in computer science before transferring to Colorado School of Mines.

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Zack Quraishi is living proof of where a community college education can get you. A recent graduate of the Community College of Aurora (CCA), Quraishi is transferring to Colorado’s top school, and one of the best in the nation; the Colorado School of Mines

Like many of CCA’s students, Quraishi found an institution that embraced first-generation students like himself, and gave him a place to pursue his academic dreams. 

Though his grandparents were already in the United States, the rest of his family had to wait nearly two decades to join them from their native Afghanistan. Long waits on visas on top of delays caused by Covid, extended his journey.

Upon arriving at his new home, he found himself following in his brother’s footsteps, who studied Computer Science in Afghanistan. He graduated with his Computer Science associate degree this past May. 

CCA’s approach to supporting first-generation students played a major role in his decision on which school to attend. 

“CCA felt like a second home for me, with the dedicated faculty and staff here that are helping students to achieve what they dream for,” Quraishi says. 

After touring the campus, and learning about services like Trio, which offers guidance and coaching to first-generation students and others, he says he fell in love. 

“Another reason I chose CCA was because of the small class size, which is way better for the students because the faculty can focus more on the students and give them the help they need.”

On top of his rigorous S.T.E.M. classes and homework, Quraishi took on another role during his time at school in CCA’s IT Department. As a student employee on the IT Help Desk, he gained real-world experience on dealing with the sorts of technology he might encounter in his future career. 

His managers and mentors in the department were especially helpful in those endeavors, giving him the tools he needed for hands-on experience with projects. 


“They taught me a lot, from technical skills, to lifelong real life scenarios of everything that we have done. I really appreciate them for everything that they have done and all their support,” he said. 

This fall, Quraishi will walk through the doors of Mines having completed many of his major core classes, like the advanced math and physics classes he will need for his Computer Science bachelor’s degree. He says he is excited to focus on emerging technologies like A.I. and robotics. 

In the meantime he will continue to work at CCA’s IT Help Desk. As an alumni, he plans on helping guide and empower CCA’s next generation of Foxes. 

Even as he prepares to attend one of the country’s premiere S.T.E.M. institutions, he says he looks back on his time at CCA, and wears his school pride as a badge of honor. 

“It reminds me of where I came from in Afghanistan, where I am right now in the United States, and how they helped me and supported me to pursue my career and learn more. To become more proficient in the field that I want to work in. CCA was the community that welcomed me like it was my home and the support that they gave me, I will remember for my whole lifetime.”

His family’s pride runs deep too. He says his family is proud of him for achieving success as a first-generation student, and pursuing his passions. 

Transferring to the Colorado School of Mines just became easier than ever before. CCA and Mines recently partnered for the Mines Academy at CCA. This new transfer program is designed to CCA’s S.T.E.M. students on the fast-track to earning a bachelor’s degree at CCA. 

The program takes the guesswork out of the transition process, and offers qualifying students guidance, coaching and support on their academic journey. Click HERE to learn more about Mines Academy at CCA. 

CCA also offers the Bridge to Bachelor’s program, which partners with other four-year universities, to give students who earn their associate degree a smooth transition into a university. Click HERE to learn about the program. If you are interested in learning more about CCA and its programs, click HERE, and be sure to begin the enrollment process HERE. 

Photos by: CCA Dept. of Strategic Communications