I grew up in Modesto and have lived here for over 20 years. I spent my entire life trying to find my passion and I dove into many activities to find it. At age 13 I was gifted a boom box and was curious as to how it actually worked. When it stopped working I finally got the courage to take it apart myself. That was the moment in my life that I knew what I wanted to do but I wasn’t sure where I could apply it. I actually dropped out of high school around 11th grade in order to work full time at a local car wash to help my parents financially. My confidence in myself after that dwindled until I got my first computer. It was my radio, I broke it, fixed it and learned a lot about the web. I wanted to know more so I started learning HTML. Then I wanted to learn how my code was being translated. It turned into a fascination on how the web really works. I spent over 8 years freelancing because I limited myself to being self-taught when in fact; I needed school more than I had assumed. Plus, lack of high school diploma kept me from any progress. The confidence in myself never really came back all those years.
All of that changed though; before my wife graduated from the Institute of Technology in Baking and Pastry, I went on campus with her and met Laura Hughes. She introduced me to the Penn Foster program and a light sparked in me that I didn’t know that I had. I enrolled into the program and spent a few months getting used to learning again – the program is designed to be understandable and to conform to all learning minds. After I received my diploma I was introduced to a new program that was starting; the Microsoft Systems and Security Analyst program. The second I heard cloud computing, computers and servers, I had the most amazing feeling in my core; the fantastic chest feeling you get when you’re beyond excited. I immediately made my decision and eagerly awaited the first day of class. I finally found the confidence I was missing my whole adult life. It brought out the person that’s been hiding all these years; the social butterfly who loves making people smile.
I graduated on September 18th, 2015 and one month later I was hired by Select Education Group / Institute of Technology and I now provide IT support for various campuses all around California. I had a dream to be able to work at a job I love – that dream is now a reality. I used to believe education wasn’t something I could succeed at. Now I work with individuals who are smart, passionate and like a family to me. In 2 years I accomplished most of my 5 year plan. I hope that someone out there can see my story and follow their dreams without ever looking back. Confidence is the first step to reaching your dreams.
The most important thing in the world to me are the people around me. Whether they’re in my life for a few days, months or years. Thanks to the Institute of Technology; I have more people in my life I care about, more reasons to smile, a newfound confidence and can finally say; I am proud of myself – the top things I have been missing out on most of my life. In fear of leaving someone out, I want to say; the Institute of Technology gave me a second chance and a second family.
– Erick Mattos