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Son of immigrant parents motivated to ‘do better and be better every single day’

A man sits on a couch with sunlight from the window behind him.

Some people would feel pressure if they were in junior Christopher “Chris” Agbanyo’s shoes. The son of two immigrants, his parents sacrificed and worked hard to give him better opportunities than they were afforded.

But it’s not pressure Chris feels—it’s motivation. He’s using that motivation to earn a degree in Information Technology Management from York College of Pennsylvania.

Chris first started exploring IT in high school through York County School of Technology’s career program. It just clicked for him. “My brain just works very logically—with ones and zeroes—which is how a computer works,” he says.

While his parents want him to succeed, they measure success by how happy a career will make him. “They want me to love what I’m doing,” he says. After spending his high school senior year working in York Tech’s IT department, he knew he’d found that love.

A value for service

Chris’s mother immigrated from Guyana; his father came from Togo. They met in the late ’80s in New York City and worked hard to give their children a good life. Chris is not taking their sacrifices for granted. “I’m working hard to create a better life not only for myself, but for my parents and my future children,” he says. “My motivation is to do better and be better every single day.”

Chris doesn’t just have the support of his family — he has the support of his community. In high school, he was a part of the Quantum Opportunities Program through the York YWCA which is now held at the York College Center for Community Engagement. The program encourages students to be active in community service and pursue academic achievement. It rewards them with financial assistance for college.

For Chris, the program was a huge help for him and his family. Without it, affording college would have been “a lot harder and a lot tighter on me and my family overall,” he says.

That helped instill a value of community service in Chris. “Anywhere I go, anywhere that has helped me, I do want to give back, because that’s what they’ve done for me,” he says. One of the ways he does that is as a peer mentor for first-year seminar students at York College. He helps out with new students and advocates for the school and its efforts to help kids from York go to college.

Finding happiness

Chris chose York College for its IT Management program and he hasn’t been disappointed. “We get a lot of business education,” he says, “And I’m really happy about that. It’s definitely helped me learn more about the world and I can definitely apply it when I graduate.”

He appreciates the emphasis on internships and career help. From mock interviews to resumé help, he’s found support at York College. “They offer a lot of things to make it easier to get your career started,” he says.

He’s got a few ideas of what that career might be — maybe an IT project manager or a high-level consultant or systems analyst. Wherever he ends up, he won’t stop until he finds the right job for him and makes his parents proud. “Most important for me is just to be able to enjoy my job,” he says. “I’m going to keep working until I find a spot that I’m happy at.”

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