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January 7, 2015

Erika Garcia did not think information technology (IT) would be a possible career for her due to her visual impairment. But then a friend shared with her that San Diego Futures Foundation (SDFF) offers IT training to young adults with disabilities.

Erika joined SDFF in February 2014 and was connected with the IC3: Digital Literacy Program, which focuses on teaching participants to utilize the computer in new ways to increase their productivity skills for Microsoft Office as well as their knowledge of multimedia and Internet usage required for many administrative jobs. She initially worried about how to make the courses accessible and a positive learning experience, as it had been difficult for her to find schools or institutions that offered the support and accommodations in the classroom that she needed to follow her passion for technology. Fortunately, SDFF staff was there to help, and they quickly learned how bright Erika was in the classroom.

Daniel Romero, Director of Education & Training at SDFF, describes Erika’s involvement with the program. “Erika attended several field trips and guest speaker presentations designed to provide insight into various careers in the IT industry, and immediately connected with those she met through Fab Lab San Diego,” he says. “Erika expressed an enjoyment of hands-on activities, which allowed her to explore and learn about computer hardware, connecting devices and their functions. She ultimately earned her IC3 Certification—a significant achievement and motivation for her to continue her pursuit of a computer technology career.”

Erika says the SDFF program was great because the class sizes were small and she was able to learn at her own pace. “The courses were simple to follow and understand, and I received lots of one-on-one help and support from the staff,” she says. “The staff is always willing to help, and although I’ve completed the program, they still find ways to support me.”

Erika is now studying online courses toward her CompTIA A+ certification. She is also researching educational programs that will allow her to continue her pursuit of knowledge of technology and computers. She hopes to pursue a career in computer technology, focused in the areas of troubleshooting and hardware repair.

Romero adds that not only is Erika an ambitious and conscientious student, she also goes above and beyond in many areas of study by connecting to program alumni, and continually seeking to further her knowledge of the IT field. She serves as an inspiration, he says, not only to fellow students but also the staff, as she participates in activities such as bike-riding and skydiving, pushing others to reach beyond their limits.

Further, Romero notes that Erika’s objectives to learn more about technology are supported by her interest to increase technology accessibility for other people with disabilities. “I believe that Erika would like to point out to others that they are capable of many things as long as they are willing to give it their best effort,” he says. “She has proven that if given the right tools and a persistent work ethic, it is possible for all to reach their goals, as demonstrated in her achievement of the IC3 certification.” 

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