Weber State University opened a new world for Artem Koval, a computer science major who moved to the United States when he was 16.
Koval was born and raised in Zaporizhzhia, an industrial and cultural center in southeast Ukraine. His father worked there as an electrical engineer, helping shape young Koval’s fascination with technology – from playing video games to building computers.
“As a kid, I wanted to become a scientist, I knew that for sure,” Koval said.
He was also certain he wanted to live in America, a “lifelong dream” for his family. After years of waiting, they arrived in Utah – a turbulent transition due in part to language barriers.
“It felt like coming to a different planet,” Koval said. “I had a lot to learn about the culture and how to interact with people, but academically, I found it to be a space where I excelled.”
Koval always had his hopes set on higher education, but said college can often feel like a “wild dream” for immigrant families. He credits GEAR UP advisors in his high school for guiding him to Weber State, which accepted his advanced placement and concurrent enrollment credits, starting him on another journey.
“College was eye-opening for me,” Koval said. “Weber State helped me explore and find out new things about myself that I didn’t know existed.”
One of those discoveries was a passion for teaching, which led him to become the lead tutor for math and computer science at WSU Davis.
He’s also developed an interest in environmental careers: “I want to play a role in the development of solutions toward climate change, and I feel like computer science has a lot to offer there.”
Koval, who recently became a U.S. citizen, said he wants other immigrant families to believe that higher education is possible. His younger brother, 11, is already planning to attend Weber State.
“For many immigrants like me, college doesn't have to be just a dream,” Koval said. “No matter where you are in life, you should not throw away the possibility of going and pursuing higher education.”