From Refugee to Engineer: Annie’s Story

June 17, 2024

Collage of Annie Umuhoza and her story from Rwanda to the U.S.

Graduate Civil Engineer Annie Umuhoza joined Halff as an intern in September 2022 while pursuing her degree at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Following graduation, she was hired on full time in the Frisco office.

But Annie’s story doesn’t start there. In fact, it starts more than 8,000 miles away in East Africa.

Life in Kiziba

Annie’s story begins in Rwanda. Her parents fled to Rwanda in the 1990s due to political instability and genocide in the Congo.

mud home in Kiziba, TanzaniaKiziba, Tanzania.

Along with thousands of other refugees fleeing the Congo, they were placed in the Kiziba Refugee Camp, which became the place where Annie would spend her childhood.

From Rwanda to America

In the blink of an eye, Annie’s world drastically changed.

A resettlement agency selected Annie’s family to undergo the process of moving to the United States.

“The process isn’t easy,” Annie said. “Interviews aren’t back-to-back. You could do one interview today and then you won’t have another for five months. Some families don’t ever hear back.”

Annie Umuhoza's familyAnnie’s family was lucky to complete their interviews in under a year, opening the door for them to move to the U.S.

As the Umuhoza family settled in with help from a Catholic charity, Annie’s parents began working in a warehouse while she prepared to start ninth grade.

Children and teens in a classroom doing school in Kiziba

She knew that her new school would be a completely different experience. What she didn’t expect was how much her schooling in Rwanda actually prepared her for classes in the States.

Annie’s Journey to Halff

One day, an acceptance letter from the University of Texas at San Antonio arrived at her door. She packed her bags and made her way to San Antonio, where she discovered a passion for engineering and would later be introduced to Halff.

Annie at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA)
Annie started applying to colleges outside of Dallas at the end of 2018, determined to finish her degree.

She began interning at Halff in September 2022, and after graduating with her Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, she was hired full time in the Transportation practice where she works today.

“I see myself growing here, and helping the new EITs or interns,” said Annie. “My team is great, my boss is great. I know every time I can go to them and ask them a question.”

Annie Umuhoza at Halff
From a refugee in Rwanda to a civil engineer at Halff, Annie’s story of hard work and dreaming for more is an inspiration to us all!

“I came here for a better life and a better opportunity, so why must I not take advantage of that opportunity and earn that degree my parent’s didn’t get a chance to earn?”


Halff sits at No. 16 nationally in the companies with 1,000 to 2,499 employees in the 2024 Top Workplaces USA award rankings presented by Energage. Halff was recognized as a Top Workplace in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Jacksonville, Orlando, Oklahoma, San Antonio and Tampa. We have also been recognized as a Top Workplace in Austin and Dallas nine times each since 2015, seven times in Houston since 2016 and for the second consecutive year in San Antonio this year.

Cumulatively, Halff has been recognized as a Top Workplace 36 times.


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