Instructors Inspired a Career to Be Proud Of
Ryan Stewart came to Florida Career College’s Lauderdale Lakes campus searching for a new career after years of repairing appliances and walked away two years later with a career in IT that he can build on for years to come.
“A career change brought me there but what got me to stay was meeting the Computer and Network Technician instructor, Mr. Lindo,” Ryan said. “My previous profession was kitchen equipment and HVAC. I didn’t want to do that anymore, but I still liked the aspect of getting my hands dirty. I met Mr. Lindo and he was in the process of building a PC. We got to talking about taking things apart. I ended up leaving wanting to sign up and I signed up two days later.”
Ryan had spent years doing HVAC work for several companies in New York, South Carolina and Florida. He was tired of bouncing between different companies and also tired of working outdoors in poor weather, but he was still interested in working with his hands. He hadn’t considered working with computers before, but once he saw it in action, it felt like a perfect fit.
“I was excited to start something new and learn something new,” he said. “I was nervous because I hadn’t been in school for a good seven or eight years when I went back. It was also a different environment.”
The unique school environment turned out to be a benefit. Ryan thrived being able to focus on one topic at a time and his experience repairing appliances made him a natural at repairing computers.
“When he came in, he was really hungry,” said Romaine Lindo, Ryan’s instructor. “He already understood HVAC, so he was coming from a skill set. He was trying to troubleshoot his Computer Network Technology stuff like he was troubleshooting HVAC, which wasn’t a bad thing. Coming in having any kind of skill, we can redirect stuff and make things work. That’s exactly what he did.”
Seeing Ryan’s interest and his skill, his instructors jumped at the chance to help him achieve success.
“They kept pushing me to do more,” Ryan said. “Whenever I got comfortable with something, they pushed me to learn more.”
As soon as he graduated, he enrolled in the school’s Information Technology Associate of Applied Science degree program to further his education.
“What kept me motivated at that point was being able to go back to the school and not only learn more material and get more knowledge, but also being able to go back to those instructors when something didn’t make sense in the field,” Ryan said. “Sometimes theory clashes with reality. It’s not always clean and clear cut out in the field like it is in the classroom. I could always go back and bounce ideas off them and they worked with me to solidify the base knowledge you need to get the job done.”
“He just blossomed,” said Ursala Clark, another one of Ryan’s instructors. “I’m so proud of him. Every time I see him, I tell him, ‘You did the work. I just gave you the information.’ ”
While he was still going to school, the small company Ryan was hired by sent him to work a contract job at a large hospital. Before that assignment was over, the hospital offered him a full-time position with them, and Ryan was happy to accept.
“I’ve never been more happy with my career choice,” he said. “I still do what I like to do with a lot less of the drawbacks of being outdoors. I still get to be on the road every so often and it’s refreshing. It helped me find some balance to work.”
The instructors who pushed him couldn’t be prouder.
“It makes me want to keep teaching,” Mr. Lindo said. “You rarely have a chance to impact someone, and it’s not just the average impact. You’re helping somebody change the way they view themselves. The way they view life. The way they view progress. When you’re a part of changing someone in that regard, it’s like nothing else.”
“I’d recommend these instructors to anyone,” Ryan said. “They got me there. When they saw I wanted to learn it and put the effort in, they worked with me even more and showed as much effort in me as I showed in myself. It wasn’t just me doing everything. They worked their end off as much as possible to make sure I excelled and to push me further than I ever thought I could go.”