Accident victim heads back to college
Single parent resumes school after car accident
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2007
Updated: Friday, December 26, 2008 19:12
Being a single parent of three boys and having suffered a crippling head injury from a traffic accident have not stopped a computer engineering student at Contra Costa College from reaching out for his goals.
Charles Fordjour, is adamant about transferring to a top university, either Stanford or UC Berkeley, for a bachelor's of science degree and eventually getting a doctorate. His ultimate goal is to write codes for computer chips.
The 41-year-old Fordjour says an accident he had in 1991 resulted in head and neck injuries leaving him with severe memory loss.
However, he hasn't let the disability hold him down.
Fordjour was born in Paris, France and spent some of his early years in England with his grandparents. While there he started his educational journey at a boarding school. He came to the United States at age 11 with his parents and immediately settled into his new environment in El Cerrito. He attended Berkeley High School and studied aircraft engineering at college but went to work in what he calls, "the semi-conductor industry." That career spanned 20 years and involved among other things training clients on how to use and run semi-conductor processes.
He quit his work in the semi-conductor industry, that included a well-paying job at Intel Corporation and came to CCC to improve his skills in computer engineering. "After the accident, my mind was no longer as sharp as it used to be. I find it difficult to recall things and I have to put in extra effort in all my school work," he said.
In an attempt to stay on track with his educational goal, Fordjour is juggling more than a full load of courses. Instead of the 12-unit full time course load, Fordjour is taking 21 units.
"It's for me to stay within the time limit I have given myself because I want to be at (UC) Berkeley or Stanford University next fall."
He said although it is hard to juggle school, work and parenthood, he stays focused because he wants his three sons, Jean-Pierre, 15, Charles Jr., 13, and Joseph, 12, to be scholastically motivated by seeing how committed their father is in his own studies.
"I try to set a good example for them," Fordjour said. "When they see that I'm working hard trying to better myself, that let's them know that they can also work hard in their own studies."
His method of motivation appears to be paying off, as his eldest son, Jean-Pierre, is being courted by Ivy League universities because of his excellent academic record.
Computer information systems professor Robert Chan said Fordjour is one of the most committed students he has come across. "He is really studious. I would like to have a class full of people like Charles," Chan said.
He said what makes Fordjour a diligent student is that he comes to class prepared and willing to help others.
Chan said Fordjour can transfer to any school he wants if he sets his mind to it, even though he might not get the same support he needs compared to someone coming straight from high school.
"The support mechanism is not the same as that given to students out of high school and I applaud the Center for Science Excellence for giving him support," Chan said.
He said Fordjour has a quiet nature to him and it would be beneficial if he opened up more and allowed himself to shine, especially at a time when he is working on transferring to the schools he wants.