While in prison, Claudio taught himself how computers worked

Seventeen years. That’s how long Claudio Ramirez was incarcerated.

Forty. That’s how old Claudio was when he was released from prison.

Two weeks. That’s the time it took him, after being released, to enroll in classes at Richard J. Daley College to get his life back on track.

As he re-entered society, Claudio was living in Englewood and needed to attend school nearby. He also knew his career options were limited as a person who had been incarcerated. However, the course options at Daley offered a flexible, straightforward path to enrollment. So, in 2015, Claudio started studying computer science with an emphasis on networking.

While in prison, Claudio taught himself how computers worked. By the time he started classes at Daley, he was eager to learn even more. He also knew a degree from Daley College would help him reach one of his life goals: earn a six-figure salary by the time he turned 50.

A City Colleges of Chicago connection helped bring Claudio closer to reaching that goal by helping him obtain his first IT job while he was still a student. Julie MacCarthy in the Career Services Department at Daley connected Claudio with a contact at Olive-Harvey College. That Olive-Harvey contact was friends with a recruiter for the firm that hired Claudio. Finally, his IT professors wrote letters of recommendation for his interview.

“They were some of my biggest cheerleaders while I was there,” he said. “Being able to have someone who supported you really helped. Those were words of encouragement I needed and didn’t realize I needed.”

Claudio also loved the flexibility of his classes, which made it easier for him to work and attend school. Sometimes, he spent 60 hours a week at his IT job, but Daley offered the ability to take in-person classes on his own schedule. That’s why, years after completing his degree, Claudio is still thankful for what he learned at the college. It’s not only helping him, but his entire family.

Looking back, Claudio credits Julie with helping him write a great resume. Now, he’s helped his daughter and many others with their resumes. He also serves as a mentor and is helping family members obtain high-paying jobs in the IT field.

“This was the career that would get me what I needed, which was financial stability to try to build generational wealth for my family,” he shared.

Working as an IT manager in one of the area’s highest demand industries, Claudio was able to surpass his salary goal a few years early. There’s no doubt his college journey put him back on track—in more ways than one.