Icon of a person standing in front of a building

Enrolled in ESL Classes

Ruben enrolled in free English as a Second Language classes at Truman College to improve his English

Image of a computer

Scored a Job in IT

With improved English, he completed a free Google certification course at City Colleges and then landed a job in the tech sector

Business person climbing up a ladder

Returned to CCC to Improve Tech Skills

Ruben is now particpating in the AWS Machine Learning program at Kennedy-King College to boost his career options

When Ruben Lopez immigrated to the United States from Venezuela, he decided he wanted to change careers. First, he wanted to improve his English, and he turned to City Colleges to achieve that goal. 

Ruben got started in free ESL classes at Truman College shortly after moving to Chicago. He already spoke some English, but he wanted to brush up on his skills. Classes with Instructor Miriam Mercado helped him do just that, while offering a supportive community for the new Chicagoan.  

“I still communicate with Instructor Mercado,” Ruben said. “She has helped me so much.”  

After completing the course, Ruben received an email from City Colleges about a Google certification program. He was intrigued and decided to enroll, as technology was a field he felt passionate about.  

The six-month course was offered at no cost and gave Ruben a deeper look into the IT sector. The instructor, Patrick Shaughnessy, also brought in guest speakers that shared their perspectives on how to break into the industry, something Ruben really appreciated. 

After completing his Google IT certification and another course that City Colleges introduced him to, Ruben scored a job in the field helping small to medium-sized businesses with their IT needs. Then, earlier this year, he received another email about a free course at Kennedy-King College—one offered in collaboration with Amazon Web Services that would introduce him to machine learning. The course seemed to offer the complexity Ruben was looking for, so he applied right away.  

Ruben began with a Python Fundamentals Boot Camp and is now taking the first of five courses in the Machine Learning University program. His instructors work at AWS, Google, and Microsoft, which Ruben says is a huge benefit to the class.  

“We have competent instructors who have careers in the field so they actually know what’s going on,” he said. “That’s one of the most important things about this program—you get information right from the source.”  

Another aspect he appreciates is the cutting-edge nature of the instruction. Ruben says he’s learning about new technologies right as they’re coming out.  

“The benefit of this program is that it’s so agile. Technologies change weekly, and we’re able to adapt and tailor the curriculum to the things that are most relevant,” he added. 

Ruben’s ultimate goal is to become a software engineer or a data scientist. He wants to earn a higher salary and have more flexibility in his career so he can spend time with his wife and two sons, one of whom attended daycare at Truman’s Child Development Lab. Meanwhile, his wife is improving her English skills at Truman with Instructor Mercado—the same teacher Ruben started his City Colleges journey with a few years ago.  

“There are so many opportunities here at City Colleges,” Ruben said, referring to all of the different resources and opportunities his family has taken advantage of.