“When you first walk on the Job Corps campus … you don’t know what your future is going to be. But I hope that this is hope for people, to look at me and say, ‘Hey, that person was here once. If he came from here to get to where he is today, then I know this is possible.’”
Rashaan built his first computer at the age of 13. Now, he works for one of the most recognizable names in information technology worldwide—but the journey to his current job wasn’t an easy one.
Rashaan’s ADHD diagnosis made school difficult for him, and in the ninth grade, he decided to drop out. He worked what odd jobs he could find, including as a dishwasher at a restaurant. When he was let go from that job, Rashaan realized he needed a change. He had a cousin who had attended Job Corps and was doing well for himself working as an electrician. That was when Rashaan learned that, out of the handful of Job Corps centers that offered information technology training in 2004, one was near where his aunt lived in Maryland. He packed his bags and enrolled at Woodland Job Corps in November of that year at 18 years old.
"I was determined to finish on time. I was determined to get out and start my own life."
The self-paced structure of Job Corps’ Computer Repair training program worked well for Rashaan. His destiny was in his own hands, and he found himself rising to the occasion. He completed his technical training in a matter of months, and by May 2005, he was ready to graduate from the program with his high school diploma, too. Passing his high school diploma exam was a real boon to his confidence, and for the first time, he felt that he was capable of success.
Rashaan spent the next few years working various IT jobs, from data entry to tech support; but he couldn’t find anything that stuck and fell on hard times again. He found himself back home with his family in South Carolina, and that was a wake-up call for him.
“It was like a fire lit under me, and I just took that and ran with it,” he said.
He started applying for jobs back in Maryland, since that had been a good environment for him, and landed his first cybersecurity position at Johns Hopkins University. Rashaan also decided to get his bachelor’s degree at Western Governors University, and when he completed that, he continued with his master’s degree. He says that’s when his career really took off.
Rashaan now works as the principal security service engineering manager at Microsoft and oversees a team that’s responsible for handling cybersecurity incidents worldwide. These days, he’s also a seasoned motivational speaker. After his alma mater, WGU, invited him to give the commencement address when he graduated with his master’s degree, he got inspired to start sharing his story. He’s since spoken at WGU’s 25th anniversary, an event for Black men in tech and at conferences on behalf of Microsoft. He says he tells his story in the hope that it inspires others to pick a dream they had and realize it’s still possible.
So, what about Rashaan’s dreams? Become a corporate vice president at Microsoft, start his own cybersecurity firm and run for political office. He says his ultimate goal, though, is just to help people.