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Lyles College of Engineering

Photo of James Dols

Family, hard work and motivation helps grad achieve dreams

James Dols began his academic life like most other engineering majors by being excited about technology. As a student at Fresno’s famed Manchester GATE program, James learned of his passion and enthusiasm for programming, and liked to take things apart virtually. All through high school he worked at an elementary school troubleshooting computers. He was ready for college which he first began at as a student at Fresno City College – just like so many of our students. It was the year 1999.

For various reasons, this initial attempt at College did not work out and he sought out full-time employment. He found employment at Aetna, an insurance company in their tech support division and has worked there since 2002. James is currently an Engineer in Aetna’s virtual operations engineering group – a position he has held since 2015.

It was the birth of his child in 2009 that motivated James to return to college as a part-time student, initially taking one course per semester. Once he transferred to Fresno State’s Lyles College of Engineering, he began taking as many courses as he could. Balancing employment, a family, and school, James’ days typically began at 4 a.m. every single day. With days filled with numerous challenges and opportunities, he stayed motivated and worked hard to maintain a high GPA at Fresno State.

During his final year at Fresno State, James became a research assistant at the Fresno State Transportation Institute. He worked with Dr. Shahab Tayeb, assistant professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department in the Lyles College and together they published a paper which has been accepted for the upcoming Intelligent Systems Conference in September of 2021.

Dr. Tayeb said, “James has proven himself to be hard-working, punctual, and dedicated to the success of his peers. He has shown diligence and character in learning the new materials and sharing his knowledge with his classmates and is keen on learning newer concepts.”

James was nominated for Dean’s Medalist for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He graduated with a BS degree in Computer Engineering in fall 2020. He hopes to return to the Lyles College to pursue a graduate degree in the future.

James’ path has been of perseverance, of excellence, and of setting and pursuing personal and professional goals. Though his path to graduation was non-traditional, the result has been phenomenal.