Gabriel’s Story

Gabriel Valdivia 2

My name is Gabriel Valdivia and when I was 6 years old my mother brought us to the US. Growing up we didn’t have much of anything. In fact, I remember weeks on end when our only meals were varied combinations of beans, potatoes, eggs, powdered milk and Kool Aid. As an adult I’ve never had much financial success and I’ve always had low paying jobs that I didn’t like. Some years ago I remember reading a study that concluded that people with a GED earn the least and those with higher levels of education earn progressively more money. Earning more money has been one of my motivating factors but the most important reason for enrolling in college was that I wanted to set an example for my teen daughter. Financially speaking it’s been a real challenge. Fortunately, government loans covered most of my education. I’ve had to work full-time and attend college full-time. I remember many evenings where I would’ve like nothing more than to go home and crawl into bed, however I had several hours of coursework and looming deadlines. Now I’m just one Algebra class away from getting my AAS in Web Graphic Design. I would have loved to continue on towards my bachelor’s degree, but I ran out of college loans. That’s another challenge I’ll need to overcome in the near future.

When I joined StudentMentor.org I was looking to learn from professionals in the field. I wanted to know what skills I needed to develop. I wanted to know how I could get some practice in the programs, mark-up, styling and programming languages commonly used in my industry. I was lucky enough to have 3 mentors. My first mentor helped me to focus on my on-line portfolio of work. She helped me see my portfolio from the perspective a potential employer. She helped me focus on how I could best demonstrate my skills. My second mentor helped me see the importance of learning the different CMSs (Content Management Systems) used in my industry. He also encouraged me a lot. I had a third mentor that helped me realize that I wanted to be much more than a front end web developer. I’ve also always wanted to write computer programs, primarily programs that teach people. He taught me a lot about IDE’s and Java. He didn’t teach me Java or how to use and IDE, but he gave me a wealth of resources that have helped me understand programming.

I would definitely recommend StudentMentor.org to anyone and when I have enough skills I would love to mentor anyone looking to break into web development and programming.