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Diploma in Hand, Finally!

May 13, 2011

Humayun Latif will graduate this weekend, but he will barely know any of his classmates. After taking an unexpected leave from graduate school, Latif recently returned to the Information Networking Institute (INI) to complete the thesis he required--and so desired--for his master's degree.

During the summer of 2002, Latif was doing his thesis on distributed gaming, as planned, when three major events occurred in his life: a job offer, a car accident and his engagement. The accident took him off his feet for over a month.

"While I was resting I decided that, given the dot com burst situation and the state of the job market, having a good job offer was something I should take advantage," he reflected.

Soon, Latif found himself gainfully employed and happily married, and eventually two children came into his life as well. Graduate school became a part of his past. Despite the success in other aspects of his life, he could not accept the notion of leaving his degree incomplete.

"I was always waiting for the 'right time' to come back and finish my degree," he said. "Slowly, I came to the realization that life was only going to get busier... plus, through the years, I had figured out what would be a relevant research topic, so with these realizations, I decided to finally go ahead and do it."

On April 22, 2011, Latif defended his thesis on global software development, in which he examined the challenges and perceived benefits of developing software on teams across international borders. It was a big change from his first thesis topic. When he had returned to complete his degree, he felt a new topic would help him "in practical life." In the end, the return for his degree was well worthwhile.

"I'm just not the kind of guy who leaves things unfinished. I hated not having finished the program. It made me feel like a quitter, which is something I don't think I am," said Latif.

He feels fulfilled, finally, as a graduate in 2011. Had things gone according to plan, Latif would have been in the Class of 2002. The fact that he's nine years late is, well, a minor detail at this point. His Carnegie Mellon experience has stuck with him through the years.

"The environment at CMU enables you to become, not just another graduate ready to get a job as an employee, but it gives you the tools, knowledge, experience and confidence to become much more than that," he said. "You view the world as an opportunity, a place where there are business problems that you can solve with technology, and you have the confidence to go about trying to come up with solutions to solve those problems."

For a graduate to feel so strongly years after starting a degree program is pretty special. That's the value of an education.

Pictured below: Humayun Latif. Congratulations to each of the graduates in the Class of 2011!

2011 graduate