How a South Sudanese Refugee in Boise became a Successful Engineer in Indiana

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Name:  Atanasio Nasir Atanasio
Profession/Industry: Mechanical Engineering
Current U.S. Position and Company Name: Advanced Manufacturing Engineer, Honeywell Aerospace (InfoTree Services, Inc. Contractor)
Country of Origin: South Sudan
Education: Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering
First Job in U.S.: YMCA court monitor
Story Author: GTI Volunteer Dunja Sabasic

Atanasio Nasir Atanasio found refuge in Boise with his parents after the situation in Sudan became too unstable for their family. As soon as they arrived, his parents worked hard to build a new life for Atanasio and his sister. From an early age, they taught Atanasio and his sister, Reyada, the importance of education and the value of a strong work ethic. Atanasio and I were able to relate, seeing as my parents are former refugees as well, and laughed at how similar (albeit strict) our upbringings were when it came to getting good grades and pursuing higher education.

I was very curious to know how Global Talent Idaho (GTI) in little old Boise, Idaho was able to help him get to Honeywell Aerospace in Indiana. When he graduated from college, he came back to Boise and started applying for jobs. While he was submitting applications, a friend told him that he should seek help from GTI, knowing that they helped refugees and immigrants with job searching skills. He was introduced to Gina, the project manager, who helped Atanasio extensively with his resume and networking skills. Global Talent Idaho introduced him to a fellow engineer and GTI volunteer, Sarah Goldstein from Power Engineers, who helped Atanasio prepare for his job interviews through a series of informal meetings and mock job interviews. Trina Finley-Ponce at Hewlett-Packard (HP) also connected him with HP engineers. He distinctly remembers interviews he practiced with engineers at HP who were able to give him tips and tricks for finding the right engineering job. They even gave him a tour of the facility, which allowed Atanasio to see the numerous different positions that engineers are able to pursue. Ashley Davis from GTI was also a huge resource to him, consistently helping him tailor his resume and introducing him to the recruiters at Micron Technology to discuss engineering careers. He said that GTI staff and volunteers were always there for him and willing to help when he had questions about resumes or interviews.

In March of 2017, Atanasio landed a contact position in advanced manufacturing engineering at Honeywell Aerospace in South Bend, Indiana. He is currently working as a contractor through Infotree Services, Inc., but hopes that the position will grow into something more permanent. On a daily basis, he solves complex problems on a variety of projects and applies the knowledge he gained into making improvements within the company. He said one of the things he likes most about his current job is the diversity of individuals he gets to work with from all over the country.

Atanasio told me that his parents raised him to work hard and to always give back to the community, whether it was literally, or even just to provide hope by showing them that hard work does pay off and that dreams aren’t out of reach. He stressed that it is important to remember where you came from, and to remember to give back when you can. When I asked him whether he had any piece of advice to give to immigrants or refugees who are about to start the job search process, he said:

“My advice to them would be to never settle. There are many opportunities here. You have to apply yourself, pursue higher education, and work hard. It may take some work but it’s definitely possible.”