The middle armrest of a pickup truck makes a pretty lousy study station. It’s not much better as a pillow. But for now, Dan Del Arroyo was making do.
To his classmates at Irvine Valley College, he was just an older student who really seemed to know his stuff when it came to tech. But after class, Del Arroyo was “just trying to survive.” Living in his truck. Dealing with the overwhelming personal and financial aftermath of an untimely layoff. Looking for a way out through his belief in the power of education.
“I stayed in the library as long as I could,” he recalls about his time at Irvine Valley College. “I was intimidated and scared, but I wasn’t about to quit.”
Back then, the Marine Corps veteran and former general manager had decades of tech experience, but no formal certification. And more importantly, no time. He was looking for the fastest possible path to IT accreditation and a decent living. He found it at IVC.
“My back was against the wall,” says Del Arroyo, who gravitated toward IVC’s Computer Information Management: CISCO Academy for its immediate career potential. “I had made a decision that I need to reinvent myself. I decided I can’t go anywhere but up.”
That meant long hours in the library and in lab sessions. It meant drawing on his military-tempered grit to overcome daily challenges, like where to park… and where to eat. Most of all, according to Del Arroyo, it meant coming to terms with his challenges, and accepting the support available at IVC.
“Dan was always the first to arrive to class, and the last to depart,” recalls Carolina Kussoy, Professor of Computer Information Management at IVC. “He never showed any sign of distress.
“As much as Dan learned from our networking classes, I also learned from Dan.”
Del Arroyo named Kussoy, along with former IVC associate professor Mohan Reddy, as two key components in his classroom-to-career success. To hear Del Arroyo tell it, their effectiveness as educators was as much about their personal stake in student success as it was about their IT expertise.
“Their professionalism, compassion and dedication to their craft is second to none,” says Del Arroyo. “They represent an excellent example of the Irvine Valley College faculty, staff and culture.”
“Our non-traditional students, veterans, and special populations are the soul of community colleges,” says Kussoy, who is proud of the opportunities that outcome-focused programs like those in the CIM department provide. “With access to our specialized, short-term, industry certificate programs, students can gain the momentum they need to rejoin the workforce and be an inspiration to their loved ones.”
Today, things are a little less urgent for Del Arroyo. And a lot happier. As a busy Tier 2 Senior Support Technician working his IT magic for pharmaceutical firm Allergan, Del Arroyo’s has completed his inspiring comeback story.
On a typical day at Allergan, he’s handling critical hardware and software fixes, providing audio-visual and telecommunications support, and managing projects. He’s setting the pace for IT professionals half his age, continuing to learn new skills as he earns an Orange County-adequate living. And not a day goes by that he doesn’t think back to the day he hit the reset button on his life and career at Irvine Valley College.
“IVC was very instrumental in enhancing my life during such a dark and depressing time,” he says. “I am living more comfortably, and it all has to do with IVC.”
It’s a far cry from those dark days doing homework in his truck, but for Del Arroyo, it was those very hardships that perhaps laid the foundation for his career education-fueled tale of redemption.
“It hasn't been an easy road, but nothing good comes easy,” he says. “I’m proof of that.”
For information on how to get started in a Computer Information Management program at IVC, visit the program website.