Find out more about the educational path this alum pursued.
Meet Christopher Dela Rosa,
In 1996, Christopher Dela Rosa’s family received the news they had been waiting 13 years to hear: Their petition to immigrate to America from the Philippines had finally been approved.
But the news came two weeks too late for Christopher. He had recently turned 21 years old, which meant he could no longer be considered a dependent on his parents’ visa application. He now had to file his own petition, a move that sent him to the back of the line—a line that could last a decade or longer.
So Dela Rosa watched as his family, including three younger siblings, left the Philippines for the better life and increased opportunities they believed awaited them in America. His mother promised: As soon as we get there, we’ll start working to make sure you can join us.
“The hardest thing about those 12 years was feeling very alone,” says Dela Rosa.
If there was one plus to living on his own, it was that it gave him the opportunity to focus on his true passion: Earning an education. “I remained focused on my goal, which was to finish my degree so that when I came here, I’d have a better experience,” he says.
In those 12 years of solitude, Dela Rosa received two bachelor’s of science degrees from Mapua Institute of Technology, one in computer engineering and the other in electronics and communications engineering. In 2002 he achieved his master of engineering degree in computer engineering, also from Mapua Institute of Technology.
He went on to work for his alma mater as director of the development office for information technology and as an assistant professor. He was then hired as dean of the College of Information Technology at Malayan Colleges Laguna. While there, in 2008, Dela Rosa received the news he had been waiting 12 years to hear: His visa application had been approved.
As he said good-bye to his homeland, he wondered: How will I earn a living once I get to the U.S.? He hoped to continue working in information technology at the college level. More education, Dela Rosa knew, would give him an advantage, so shortly after arriving in his new country he enrolled in the doctor of management program at University of Phoenix.
“When I first came to the U.S., I was a little jittery, a little scared,” he says. “I didn’t know if I would find work here. But that didn’t prevent me from aiming for my goal.”
The flexibility of University of Phoenix’s program allowed him to continue his studies while securing his first job as manager of technology operations at Harford Community College in Bel Air, Maryland. The position was a demotion from the jobs he had held in the Phillipines, but he had his foot in the door. He received several promotions until he reached the position of chief information officer, right around the time he finished his doctoral work in information systems and technology. In 2013, Dela Rosa left Maryland for a chief information officer position at Santa Fe Community College, where he works now.
“I love helping students succeed,” he says. “I hope my story in some way inspires people to pursue their dreams. Everything is possible if you focus on a goal.”
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