Headshot of Antonio J.Cefalo Y

Software engineering graduate Antonio left Venezuela in pursuit of better opportunities here at Portsmouth

3 min read

For the last few weeks we’ve been introducing you to Portsmouth’s 2021 graduates who’ve each been motivated by their own experiences and journeys. Software engineering graduate Antonio J.Cefalo Y has his own unique story to tell.

After almost being kidnapped in his home country, BSc Software Engineering graduate Antonio J.Cefalo Y decided it was time to leave Venezuela in pursuit of better opportunities. 

With what ended up being a tough journey ahead of him, Antonio has truly made the most of his time at Portsmouth after completing his degree, winning an award and having the potential of getting published. 

We asked Antonio to tell us more about his journey and achievements so far:

Tell us about your journey to university:

Coming from a third world country where everything is corrupt, I managed to complete one year of studies as a systems engineer in Venezuela before making the decision to look for better opportunities.

I barely spoke English when I arrived in the UK with the goal of continuing my studies.  However, with a lack of financial resources, I spent two years in the UK working in a restaurant before securing a student loan.

After those two years, I spent a year in college before applying for university as my qualifications from Venezuela were not equivalent to UK standards. I also had to improve my English before I could enrol onto my chosen course so I started doing a foundation year at university. I was so happy when I finished top five in the class.

What was the highlight of your time at Portsmouth?

In spite of recent adversities and challenges in relation to the global pandemic, and the bad economic situation in my home country, I worked very hard on my final year project and obtained a first class mark of 80% for it - the second best mark among several hundred students. 

In recognition of this great achievement, the School of Computing awarded me the prize of Best Computer Science Project of the Year.

What are your other academic achievements?

I’ve included the novel research results from my project in a draft paper that will soon be submitted for possible presentation at an established international scientific event – the 2021 IEEE Symposium Series in Computational Intelligence.

I’ll also submit an extended version of the paper for possible publication in a prestigious international journal - the IEEE Transactions on Artificial Intelligence.

In the meantime, the renowned International Neural Network Society has become interested and has published the project in their newsletter. 

What are your next steps after graduation?

All these achievements have motivated me to consider doing a PhD at the University of Portsmouth in the near future – with my BSc project supervisor and moderator being more than happy to be prospective members of my PhD supervision team. 
In the meantime, I’m planning to find a job as a financial analyst and build on my expertise in machine learning for financial modelling gained during my work on the project. This shows the importance of linking teaching with research and academia with industry.