Teacher inspires Sherando senior’s computer science interest |

Ashraf Ibrahim has spent the last four years taking advantage of every opportunity possible, and now this Sherando High School senior is ready to venture out into the world and make his mark.

After graduation, Ibrahim, 18, will be attending the University of Virginia to study computer science. He will enter college there as a Rodman Scholar, which is awarded to about 5% of each entering class at the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Ibrahim has found inspiration from many of his teachers, but he truly became inspired to pursue computer science by his math teacher, Christa VanOlst. After taking her class freshman year, he took her computer science class the following year.

“Halfway through my sophomore year, COVID hit, and school shut down,” Ibrahim said. “I got really bored… so I learned how to program more, and it kind of had a snowball effect.”

VanOlst enjoyed teaching Ibrahim and seeing him develop as a student and an individual.

“I first had Ashraf during his freshman year Honors Algebra 2 class, and like most teachers, when I heard chatter coming from the back of the room, I myself was inquisitive about the conversation. However, when asked to share his thoughts he surprised me by not only being on task with the assignment but also eagerly stating thought-provoking questions,” she said. “I truly believe Ashraf knows how to balance life which is a lesson some may never learn. He is an independent, self-motivated, and well-rounded human being.”

Ibrahim is a determined student, and although his schedule is usually full, he finds time to dive deep into research on topics he’s interested in. This voracious desire for knowledge has led him to where he is now.

“I feel like the state I’m used to being in is one of constant development,” he said. “I found balance in the fact that I really enjoy learning.”

Outside of the classroom, Ibrahim has engaged in many activities during his time at Sherando. Some of these include sports, peer tutoring, band, being a chemistry lab aide, and participating in the student ambassadors.

One of the more recent additions to Ibrahim’s roster of extracurriculars is the coding club.

“At the end of junior year, I founded the coding club at Sherando,” he said. “The computer science department at Sherando is really small…I realized that having an extracurricular community to do that would be really constructive, not just for me, but also for the other kids that wanted to learn computer science and coding.”

Ibrahim wants others to not hold themselves back from the opportunities life presents.

“If you see it, don’t wait,” he said. “Life is just a period of time where you get to know yourself…If you don’t really dig deep into that thing that you like, you really won’t be able to get to know yourself as well.”

Ibrahim has spent his time at Sherando growing and learning as much as he can, and he was determined to continue his growth through his senior year.

“I feel like a lot of my time at Sherando has really been me reflecting on how I spend my time,” he said. “This year has really been about savoring my time before I leave and making sure I leave the legacy I want to leave.”

Through his kind heart and determined spirit, Ibrahim has surely left a lasting legacy at Sherando.

Sherando High School’s Class of 2022 graduates at 7 p.m. today in Warrior Stadium.