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Afnan Althoupety’s Path to Portland
Afnan Althoupety’s Path to Portland

Afnan Althoupety was determined to receive her master’s from Portland State, but her persistence would be put to the test many times before she donned her cap and gown. 

After Afnan received her undergraduate degree in Saudi Arabia, she had made up her mind pursue her master’s in Computer Science abroad—all while being the first woman in her family to do so. She was especially attracted to the idea of graduate school in Portland after hearing positive stories from acquaintances who had visited the city. “I had heard a lot about how welcoming people are here,” she said. “I liked that the campus is in the heart of the downtown. Everything is connected to the city here.” 

She was accepted to many other universities throughout the country, several with tempting offers, but she held out for the University’s competitive Computer Science graduate program. After the third round of her application, Afnan was overjoyed to receive her acceptance letter.

However, with that acceptance, her journey had only begun.

The difficulty of classes, along with the newness of her environment, brought their own tests. “It was tough,” Afnan said. “My life was literally just classes, with language classes all day long and then two Computer Science classes in the evening.”

With characteristic resolve, Afnan plunged into her studies, specializing in machine learning and data science. She put this learning to use in many projects, building a prediction model of crime occurrences for a better police utilization and creating an emotional-AI recommender system for mood improvement. These projects were a few of many, Afnan said, that illustrated the breadth of available study topics within her program. 

Now, with her master’s under her belt, Afnan is showing no signs of slowing down in pursuit of her goals. “It’s my dream to be a teacher in a university,” she said. Afnan also wants to encourage young women like her, particularly Saudi women, to pursue careers in the sciences and she has volunteered her time to mentor other young women in the Computer Science program. “International students have many challenges, many new things to adjust to here, but we should be proud of ourselves for doing this all very far from our comfort zones.” 

In the coming years, we’re pleased to report that Afnan will continue to contribute her incredible talents to the Computer Science doctoral program right here at Portland State.

We are now accepting applications for the Graduate Program in Computer Science