For Waheed Khan, two years working in a restaurant changed his life.

“I did not take a normal route to my undergraduate degree,” Khan explains. “After my high school, I was not sure on what I wanted to do.”

Instead of pursuing a degree right away, Khan decided to take two years off and work at a restaurant. This experience offered a measure of perspective for the native of Karachi, Pakistan, and helped fuel his ambition and define his life’s journey.

“When I look back at that time, I know how much that two years helped me realize the importance of education,” he says.

With this in mind, the first-generation student enrolled at Winona State, following in the footsteps of his older brother, who graduated from WSU with degrees in Accounting and Management Information Systems.

Khan took full advantage of everything the higher education environment had to offer, throwing himself into academic work, student clubs and leadership opportunities, and even founding new campus events like the WSU Hackathon.

For more details on Khan’s work founding the WSU Hackathon, read his profile in the “This is WSU” series from Spring 2018.

“Being part of clubs and starting new events to help students grow and learn was one thing I always wanted to do,” says Khan. “I strongly believe in the fact that there is more for a student than just studies.

This mindset and commitment to campus involvement helped Khan stand out to recruiters at Google, he says. He completed a prestigious internship with the tech giant in Summer 2018, and was offered a fulltime position after he received his degree in Computer Science and a minor in Data Science.

“WSU taught me how to achieve my dreams. Not only through studies, but through all the opportunities this campus provides,” says Khan.

According to Khan, one such opportunity was working as the lead student systems admin in WSU’s IT department. This position was the official start of his career in computer science, he says, and allowed him to get hands-on experience in the field. It also helped give him insight into what he wanted to do with his degree.

“My position allowed me to experience and learn different real world problem-solving skills, which I cannot learn in class,” he explains.

Ultimately, his Winona State University experience set him up for success, Khan says.

“WSU helped me achieve my goals,” he says. “It allowed me to explore different roles within the industry, led me to multiple networking opportunities within my field, and enabled me to secure a coveted internship with Google.”

“WSU provided me with a platform where I was able to fulfill my dreams.”

Read more about the achievements of new Winona State University alumni and alumnae at:

About Winona State University

Founded in 1858, Winona State University is a comprehensive, regional public university with approximately 8,000 students on campuses in Winona and Rochester. Around half of WSU students are first-generation, meaning neither parent has a four-year bachelor’s degree. The oldest member of the Minnesota State system, WSU offers more than 80 undergraduate, pre-professional, licensure, graduate and doctorate programs in five colleges: Business, Education, Liberal Arts, Nursing & Health Sciences, and Science & Engineering. Winona State is ranked as the second public institution in Minnesota by U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges,” has been named among the “Best in the Midwest” by The Princeton Review for 15 years in a row, and has been featured as one of America’s 100 Best College Buys for quality and value for 23 consecutive years. The University generates $447.9 Million in annual economic impact. The University’s mission is to enhance the intellectual, social, cultural and economic vitality of the people and communities we serve: a community of learners improving our world. For more information, visit