Ask Matt what he’s doing right now, and he’s got an easy answer: he’s getting his life together. 

“I kind of was just at a stuck point in my life,’ he said. “I wanted to get back on my feet career-wise. I needed something to advance my position, advance my life.”

It’s paying off. Two years ago, Matt got married. “We had known each other for 14 years before that,” he said. “Thankfully she asked me out. Then I accidentally ghosted her for two days! Luckily, she was still interested.”

He’s also focusing on his health. “I’ve been losing weight,” he said. “Thirty pounds last month.”

And he’s attending Calbright’s IT Support program.  

Matt always wanted to work in IT. In 2007 he began attending a community college in Pittsburg, CA, where he lives. He loved the idea of studying how computers work. “But at the time I didn’t think I could cut it, so I dropped the class and got a job at a grocery store,” he said. “I couldn’t balance school and work at the same time, so I just worked. But I’m focusing on school now.”

A friend told him about Calbright. “I think she found an article about it, and she was like ‘hey, you should check this out. They have students go through an IT program, and then they help you find a job afterwards.’ And that’s what I needed,” he said. “Right now I’m not able to be mobile so much, so doing school remotely is better for me. And being able to do it at my own pace really helps.”

He attended an information session, and decided then and there to apply. 

“It wasn’t hard. I went on the website, submitted my email, and they walked us through the entire process over Zoom. I filled everything out while in the meeting, signed it digitally, submitted it, and got approved. Just like that.”

Matt has embraced the connections that an online college can provide. “I’ve been heavily involved with extracurricular stuff,” he said. “I’m attending game nights at Calbright. I’m showing up for the Teachable Moments workshops, and I’m hoping to become a student ambassador.”   

Of course he’s also focused on his studies. 

“The classes are kind of intensive, there’s a lot of reading, but it’s super interesting stuff,” he said. “I’m actually learning to solve my own computer problems in my coursework. I was having issues with blue screens a lot, and then what I was studying at Calbright covered everything I needed to fix it.”

He’s also found support when he’s needed it. 

“My wife and her family were kind of in a tight spot a month or so ago, we were on the edge of something being really wrong,” Matt said. “I told Calbright about my situation, and everyone was super supportive. Our counselors said it wasn’t a problem if I needed to take time, and they worked to help keep me on track.”

He’s about half-way through his IT program now, and confident he’ll be able to find work when it’s finished. He’s even thinking about enrolling in another Calbright class when he’s done. 

“The Networks+ program Calbright is going to launch soon sounds super interesting,” he said.

Sometimes, he said, “I feel like I’m behind, but I’m not really. I compare myself to other people going through it and I feel like I’m behind, but then I think about it: I’m going at my own pace, I’m getting there. That’s what I needed, and that’s what I’ve got.”

Matt Lopez