Raider to Gator: UF Computer Science Student Discusses Transferring Journey

Ricardo Carvalheira Student Story

The third week of every October is National Transfer Student Week, which recognizes the distinctive adversities encountered by transfer students in pursuit of their educational goals. In honor of National Transfer Student Week, we are highlighting UF Online Computer Science student, Ricardo Carvalheira.

Ricardo transferred to the University of Florida after earning his Associate of Arts degree from Seminole State College and determining a fully online program would serve him best. Now enrolled via UF Online, Ricardo says his strong support system allowed him to continue earning his bachelor’s degree and overcome unexpected difficulties presented by the COVID pandemic.

“My cultural background really helps me to realize and value what I have. It lets me see things through a different perspective. When some people see a challenge, I see an opportunity.”


Ricardo was born in Orlando, Florida, but moved with his family to his father’s hometown in Brazil at a young age. His interest in computer science began after recreating a video game server in high school with the intent of publishing it online for others to join. As a college freshman in Brazil, Ricardo initially studied electrical engineering and joined his university’s robotics team. “I wanted hands-on experience. I didn’t want to wait until my professors came and taught me. I wanted to get ahead, and I wanted to learn from people who were a bit further advanced like the juniors and seniors,” he explains.

After returning to the United States in 2018 to live with his aunt while he figured out a way to complete his degree, Ricardo was introduced to several of his parents’ close friends who lived in Florida. As he describes, “I knew them only through stories my parents told me. They said I should stay in Orlando with them for a few months, and if I wanted to go back to Brazil when the next semester starts, then I could. I really met great people along the way.” The new move also brought a shift in Ricardo’s educational focus. “What really drove me to make the switch in majors was when I moved back to the United States. I was experienced with electronics and robotics, but I had never actually programmed anything. When I moved back, I thought, why not change my major and give that a try? If I don’t like it, then at least I’ve learned a lot,” said Ricardo on switching his major from electrical engineering to computer science.

Ricardo soon settled back in Orlando, Florida, and earned his associate degree at SSC. “I transferred all of my credits from Brazil that were acceptable, and graduated with my associate degree from Seminole State. That was my first degree, as I still had two years left before I would have graduated in Brazil. I was halfway done,” Ricardo said.

“I’ll be honest, in Brazil the educational system is different. Here in the U.S., I have advisors and a lot of resources to help me be successful. Something I actually learned in Brazil was to self-teach.”


Ricardo enrolled at UCF to earn his bachelor’s degree just as the COVID pandemic caused classes to temporarily shift to an online format. The flexibility of online formatting ended when in-person attendance policies resumed. “I transitioned to a new role at work and made an agreement with my boss. I could work later shifts so that I would have mornings free to attend classes. That really meant a lot to me, but I couldn’t find any classes. It was hard because I moved here specifically to pursue my education. I went so far, I got into UCF, and then encountered this barrier,” said Ricardo while describing his scheduling conflict.

Determined to earn his bachelor’s degree, Ricardo contacted his academic advisor and searched for a flexible online program. As a transfer student, he found a perfect fit with UF Online. “When I read the overview of the program, I realized this is what I’m looking for. It was affordable, it was asynchronous, and it was remote, which meant flexibility. UF Online was the solution to my problems. It was my silver lining,” said Ricardo on his decision to apply to UF Online.

After transferring, Ricardo had the balance, flexibility, and support needed to complete his bachelor’s degree. He also credits self-discipline and the unconditional support of his loved ones in keeping him motivated to finish his degree, despite unprecedented obstacles. “I want to help others achieve success. I want to share with them the experiences I’ve had from my life and education. It meant a lot to me when I’d receive advice and encouragement from the people who believed in me. Now I want to do that for others. That’s where my mind is right now,” explained Ricardo.

“I see things through a different lens. My father doesn’t understand how I love studying so much because he was never strict with my studies. He’d never tell me to go study. I was doing that because I wanted to. I wanted to complete my education because I knew it could make my life different from what I experienced growing up.”


Currently on track to graduate in 2024 with his B.S. in computer science, Ricardo hopes that stories like his can motivate his younger siblings to set and achieve their own educational goals. “For people like me who work full time to pay for their daily living and education, this just fit my profile. I saw myself at UF Online. All I could think was, I need to apply, and I need to get in. It was a perfect match,” says Ricardo.

Transfer students are an essential part of UF Online, and it’s crucial to build awareness about the common barriers they face, as well as the unique opportunities and accomplishments afforded by transfer pathways. The University of Florida is thankful for the perseverance of transfer students like Ricardo, who conquer the goals set before them. At UF Online, student success is one of our top priorities, and stories like Ricardo’s exemplify how students can thrive while pursuing a bachelor’s degree through an online program. As they say in Brazil, obrigado!


Unlock your potential by earning your UF degree in computer science. Students will develop skills in project management, network security, and learn technical components needed to succeed in a multitude of industries. UF Online’s computer science degree sets graduates up as qualified candidates for careers ranging from government security to higher education. Learn more about UF Online’s computer science program by visiting the degree page, or signing up to attend an upcoming virtual information session.