Sergei Bondarenko arrived in the U.S. from Belarus at 19 by himself, searching for a way to pursue his dream job - becoming a computer programmer. “It’s been my dream to become a programmer since I was a kid."

After earning his associate degree in software development from NCC in spring 2019, Sergei transferred to Amherst College in Massachusetts as a junior-level student to complete his bachelor’s degree in computer science. “I got accepted by multiple selective schools, and I got accepted by my top choice - Amherst College,” he said, noting the college has about a 4 percent rate of acceptance for transfer students.

“I’m very excited about this new page in my life.” One of the best parts? He’s earned a full-ride to complete his bachelor’s degree.

Sergei said he chose Amherst College for the rigorous academics and remarkable quality of instruction; in 2007, Harvard and Columbia consulted Amherst when reviewing their teaching programs. But he also chose Amherst because it felt like home, “When I visited Amherst College, I had this feeling this was my place, my home, my people.”

Sergei recalled coming to NCC for the first time, during an open house in October 2016. At the time, he knew little about the American education system, and visited NCC for its convenience. “I visited Open House and spoke with professors, and they were very nice, very dedicated. It had chemistry – I felt it was a great place.” Sergei had his first semester at NCC in spring 2017, and was one of the Swing into Spring scholarship winners in spring 2018; a merit and need-based scholarship funded by the college Advisory Board.

Given the chance to share advice with new college students at NCC, Sergei said “Be proactive; take advantage of the honors program if you want to transfer to a four-year college because they really do appreciate that. If you want a selective four-year program, make sure you pursue leadership positions. Start thinking about where you want to transfer early – they might have requirements that you need to follow,” he said, such as enrolling in specific classes to make transferring easier.

“If you need help, make sure you talk to your professors. They’re always ready to help you,” he said,

“Make sure you work hard from the very beginning because two years fly by fast, and it’s going to pay off.”

He counseled transfer students that expensive private four-year institutions with large endowments may have more financial aid for them than they expect. “People have wound up actually paying next to nothing. You should always apply to your reach schools; if you get in, it will pay off greatly,” he said.

Update: August 2021

In summer 2021 after completing an internship with Microsoft, the company offered Sergei a full-time position in 2022 as well as a winter interterm position between semesters while at Amherst College. Sergei plans to graduate from Amherst in 2022.


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