by Leslie Sandefur ’15
Asset Alibekov is the first student from Kazakhstan to ever attend Lincoln Academy. Kazakhstan is located over 8,000 miles from Newcastle, Maine, in the heart of Central Asia. Asset Alibekov hit the ground running in his first year at LA, enrolling in an entrepreneurial class and developing a business plan to create a new data center for Kazakhstan’s internet servers. The LA sophomore has big plans to take his project, originally born out of a problem he saw in his home country of Kazakhstan and developed in the classroom at Lincoln Academy, into the real world.
In Kazakhstan, Asset grew up with two parents working in fields related to business and economics. He developed his skills in the classroom, studying at a Kazakh-Turkish school from fifth grade on, where he had the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of computer science and mathematics, in addition to learning Turkish. Outside the classroom, Asset honed his computer science skills and entered local and national competitions. At the same time, Asset was volunteering at the US Embassy in Kazakhstan, as well as volunteering at college fairs where he translated for representatives of American universities.
Asset has a clear passion for creating a bridge between the US and Kazakhstan. Volunteering at the embassy, Asset says, is where he got his first taste of the American dream. He began to search for even better opportunities for himself, and set his sights on schools in the United States. After receiving his acceptances and scholarships, he made his decision and arrived at Lincoln Academy in the fall of 2015.
The roots of Asset’s data center project sprouted during Christmas vacation, in the middle of his first year at Lincoln Academy. An old friend from Kazakhstan shared a business idea with Asset about creating an open-source studying platform for students in Kazakhstan. The problem they found, however, is that Kazakhstan does not have the data servers necessary to store the data for such a service. Asset’s idea solves this issue by creating a new data center, which works as a house of computers servers that will help companies store their data, allow quick access to data, and provide data security.
Asset worked on his project throughout the 2015-2016 school year in an entrepreneurial class that met once a week, taught by guest instructor James Wilfong. Wilfong was one of several mentors at Lincoln Academy that Asset worked with to help make his project a reality. Wilfong helped Asset with the fundamentals of creating a business plan for his project, including factors like risk management and marketing strategies.
For the technological aspects of his project, Asset reached out to Maya Crosby, Lincoln Academy’s ATEC Program Director. Crosby helped Asset connect with several computer science industry professionals. This offered Asset the opportunity to share and discuss his project with John Todd, the founder of one of the largest internet data centers in the world. Asset also had the chance to travel to Boston to visit and tour the Markley Group, New England’s largest and longest operating telecommunications and data center facility.
For Asset, this undertaking is not just a class assignment. Asset has plans for his project outside the classroom, and is extremely ambitious and optimistic about the implications it could have for his home country. “My goal is to create a reliable data center in Kazakhstan, using my experience from Markley Data center and from what John Todd told me,” Asset says. He explained that Kazakhstan is significantly behind the US in the field of computer science and technological developments. Asset is passionate about taking advantage of the opportunities he has studying the US, and giving back and improving his home country. Asset believes he can do just that with his project, and hopes that by implementing his plan for a new data center he can improve the overall data structure in Kazakhstan, bring in and support new businesses, and even increase the national GDP.
Asset’s project is a perfect union of his computer science abilities and business skills. His real passion, however, lies in business and economics, following in his parents’ footsteps. Asset plans to start a club at Lincoln Academy next fall that focuses on using entrepreneurial skills to solve social issues. “If you give a man a fish, he can eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he can eat for life. If you give a man a the skills to start a business, he can help his feed his entire community,” Asset explained.
Coming to the US to study at Lincoln Academy “was the best decision I’ve ever made before” according to Asset. After his time at Lincoln Academy, Asset plans to attend a college in the US to continue developing his interest in business and economics.
Leslie Sandefur ’15 is an intern in the LA Communications Office