My name is Hector, and Calbright College is changing my life.

I was working as an administrative assistant for a company that works with adults with developmental disabilities, and the job was wearing me down. I’d tried to go to community college, but I’m a “Dreamer” — my parents brought me to America as an undocumented child and while I’ve had DACA status for six years, I can’t get any financial aid or support, and in order to keep my job I’d had to drop out of school.

One day I was sitting in my car, trying to decide if it was even worth going in to work, when I heard a story about Calbright on the radio. It said they had a program in IT that I could take online, on my own schedule, and for free. It said that whatever obstacles I had in my life, they would help handle it, and it said my immigration status didn’t matter.

My whole life, I’ve heard about all the help I can’t get, and these people on the radio were saying this was help I can get. I decided to try it. Applying was easy. I didn’t have the technology I needed to do online classes, but a week after I got accepted to the program they sent me a Chromebook and a wi-fi hotspot, so that was easy too.

Being back in school was very hard to start up again. It was difficult to get into the routine of learning something, but there’s a lot of support at Calbright. If I didn’t do anything for a while, I would get a call, or I would get an email — they would ask me how I’m doing, and what more they could assist me with. They also referred me to mental health services just to talk to someone, and it became a very positive experience. They helped me out with my problems, set up times with the instructors, and helped me out with the courses I was working on.

I’ll be getting my CompTIA certificate soon, and then I’ll be taking Calbright’s classes in cybersecurity — but I’ve already gotten a better job. I left my administrative assistant job for a company that works in robotics, where I make sure that all their delivery drones are functioning properly. I didn’t believe that I was qualified because I have no formal training, but I worked with Calbright’s Career Services. They helped me update my resume to make it appealing to the kind of company I wanted to work for. I got interviewed, and the company thought I was a perfect fit. So I was hired.

If none of the robots are malfunctioning, I can use my Chromebook and wi-fi hotspot to study in my car, and that’s what I do. I would like to work with really big technology infrastructures and computers in cybersecurity, and I’m so grateful that I’m able to study this for free.

It’s hard for me to believe that California has this program to help me. I haven’t had any other assistance available: I can’t apply for food stamps or for anything financial, but this education has been such a positive experience for me.

Hector-e1620410394450 1 (1)