Rafael Pineda, computer information systems
Rafael Pineda began his college education in 1975, and some 30 years later, he received his bachelor’s in CIS this May. For most of the three decades, he took one or two classes a semester simply because he enjoyed learning, but after he was laid off two years ago and his pending degree became one of the biggest reasons he was able to land a new job, he found new worth and respect for what a college education could deliver.
Now 51, Pineda entered his first class at Santa Monica College in 1975 undoubtedly without a thought that he would walk away a college graduate more than 30 years later. Because he always piled his coursework on top of a full-time career, it took him almost 10 years to complete his associate’s in electronics technology at SMC, which helped him land a job with BAE Systems as a CAD designer. A part of the benefits package was tuition reimbursement so he started taking computer information systems classes at CSUDH. During those early years, there were a few times when his 60-hour-a-week workload caused him to put his studies on hold for a few years, but in 1998, he returned and has continued a tortoise pace toward his B.S. ever since.
Then, that methodical plan took a turn two years ago when BAE, facing cuts across the aerospace industry, laid him off after 23 years. Undaunted, Pineda continued to take classes at the same rate, paying for them himself while looking for another job. With so many years in the aerospace industry, he assumed a position would not be hard to find. Eight months later, Raytheon hired him as a senior configuration analyst, but what he discovered was that while his experience was valued, what really got him the job was his pending diploma.
changed my perspective. It made me really appreciate that I had continued to
go to school and continued the effort to complete my degree,” he says.
“Raytheon knew I was close to finishing school and that played a big part in
why I got the job I did.”
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