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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

SJVC Computer Student Finds Dreams Can Grow From Low Self-Worth

November 25, 2013
Gabriel Ontiveros has resolved to avoid the pitfalls of his peers, starting by enrolling at SJVC.

There is a worse prison than the one in which many of Gabriel Ontiveros’ friends lived. The prison of one’s own mind is much more limiting.

“If you think you’re not worth it, if somebody tore you down, if nobody makes you feel like you can ever do anything, you need to start to see something special in yourself,” says Gabriel. “Change your mind-set.”

Gabriel knows very well how that works. He also knows how easy it is to get into that place of doubt and fear.

In his early 20s Gabriel hung out with guys “who were a bad influence, and I was doing some stupid things,” he says.

Gabriel had run-ins with the law and saw many of his friends locked up for a long time. The consequences he paid and the tough advice he got from ‘lifers’ told him he needed to change things in his life in a big way.

“They kind of mentored me and got me turned around,” he says. “I had to start doing better.”

Finally, at 32-years old, Gabriel was ready to act on his determination.

Gabriel enrolled in the Computer Systems Administration program at the Visalia campus and started the slow process of believing in himself again.

Until starting the CSA program “I never touched a computer ever before in my life,” he says. That had to be a pretty rough start to his introduction to the class. But, Gabriel worked very hard in class to try to catch up to everyone else who had pretty much always had a computer in their lives.

“I thought I was catching on pretty good,” he says. When he earned an “A” in his first class, “That kind of helped; and I felt really good.”

Gabriel had a lot of family support from his wife, Decinda, their kids and Gabriel’s sisters Jessica and Sylvia. “I couldn’t have done it without them,” he says. But it was his mom, Sandra’s voice that really pushed him forward.

“She believes in tough love and always told me, ‘We believe you can do it – but it’s on you,’” he says. “It helped me see things a lot differently.”

Gabriel, as it turned out, was a great fit for CSA. “Every day was a good day and I loved going to school,” says Gabriel.

He walked across that graduation stage in August and claimed his reward with 109 other successful grads. He stood out to those in attendance because Gabriel was one of 28 graduates inducted into the National Technical Honor Society, and who wore purple and silver honor cords and white tassels to designate their privileged membership. To qualify Gabriel had to maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA, 85% attendance and perform 8-hours of community service.

Had Gabriel addressed the audience that night, he would have given a clear and emphatic message to those who might let self-doubt and the negative voices of others keep them from their life goals.

“Regardless of the past, right now – from today on – it can be different,” says Gabriel. “It’s hard and everything is a chance. Nothing in life really worth it is easy. But it can be done if you work for it.”

Gabriel is on a roll. Somewhere in the more distant future he and his sister, Jessica, hope to open a nursing home where Gabriel will set up its computer network system and help run the business. He is now in the enrollment process to get his Bachelor’s degree.

Because…he’s worth it.


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