Web Operations Data Analyst Sam Hozan turns his passion and talent for high tech into a dream career.
As an 8-year-old boy living in communist Romania, Sam Hozan remembers walking to the store to buy bread and milk with his mother.
“If you got there early enough to find a loaf of bread on the shelf, you were lucky. If you didn’t get there on time, then you just went without bread that day,” he recalls.
“The government controlled everything: your water, your electricity, when it was on and when it turned off, your food supply, your education, and even whether you were allowed to advance to high school or college.”
Window of opportunities
Twenty-four years later, Hozan feels blessed to be in the United States with all of the opportunities afforded him. His mother and father fled to the U.S. with their seven children, all under the age of 9, after the Romanian Revolution in 1989 when the country was in a period of unrest. The uprising ultimately resulted in the violent overthrow and execution of the country’s longtime Communist leader, Nicolae Ceausescu, and subsequently, the end of 42 years of Communist rule in Romania.
Hozan found himself in a strange new country, with English as his second language, but he was old enough to understand that he and his family had landed in a much better place.
“Seeing my mom and dad pick up and come here with almost nothing, and with the courage to start over and make such a change in their lives had a huge impact on me,” Hozan says. “That was always ingrained in my mind; as the head of the household, you sometimes have to make extreme sacrifices and decisions to provide for your family.”
IT street smarts
Since he had always had a propensity for math, algebra, analytics and technology, it was natural for Hozan to pursue that field of study when he graduated from high school. He took a few community college courses in information technology and landed good positions in the IT industry, first as a website marketing manager and later as a search engine optimization (SEO) specialist. Hozan willingly moved from Vancouver, Washington, to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and eventually back to Vancouver, where he currently resides, to find employment that would challenge him in the IT field and increase his earning potential. While he was moving up the IT ladder, he wasn’t necessarily moving up in salary or managerial responsibility appropriate for the job titles he held.
“I realized that if I had a college degree, the pay might be much higher relative to my experience and knowledge,” he says. “I was considered ‘street smart’ in the IT industry, but not ‘book smart.’ I wanted to change that in order to better provide for my family.”
He discovered that his employer had a tuition-reimbursement program with University of Phoenix, one of its major educational partners, so he took the leap and enrolled in the University’s online Information Technology degree program. Hozan believed he had found the perfect fit, in both his higher education and employment choices.
Degree within reach
Hozan completed his associate degree and ultimately advanced to his current position as web operations data analyst with IT giant Hewlett-Packard (HP). He completed his Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree with a concentration in web development in 2013 while working at HP.
“I won’t deny that it was a challenge, changing jobs, completing my degree and starting a family at the same time,” Hozan says. “My wife was attending University of Phoenix during that same period, and we had just had our firstborn. I think I’m still catching up on my sleep from those years.”
Hozan and his wife, Carina, recently added a daughter to their family. However, Hozan isn’t worried about the future or providing for his growing household. He believes his new career at HP will only continue to thrive, thanks in part to his University of Phoenix degree. Hozan would like to move up to a chief information officer (CIO) or chief technology officer (CTO) position.
Freedom to succeed
“Eventually, I would like to take my children back to Romania to show them where their family came from and where we are today,” Hozan says. “So many times, we take for granted the freedoms we’re given here in this country—even education itself. To have this kind of freedom and opportunity and not pursue it—that, to me, is inexcusable.”
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