Cristian Barrero holds the value of an education in the highest regards – a quality instilled in him by his mother and her experience in pursuit of a better life for her family. At age 17, Barrero’s mother moved him and his siblings from Colombia, South America to the United States for its abundance of educational and career opportunities. He adjusted quickly to America’s hectic culture: He worked a full-time job (sometimes two) helped out with his younger siblings at home in Franklin Park and took English as a Second Language and credit hour courses at Triton College.
Barrero, of Schaumburg, received his associate’s degree in computer design in 2008 from Triton, before completing his bachelor’s in Industrial Technology and Management at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago the same year. At age 28, he’s currently pursuing his master’s degree at IIT and working in the industry for Metal Enclosure Structures, with the goal of starting his own product design company.
What have been some obstacles you've had to overcome in pursuit of your educational and career goals?Discrimination being an immigrant, the language and accent barrier, being constantly underestimated, financial support, time management and the lack of knowledge and exposure to all sources of help available on an educational and professional level.
What has served as a source of inspiration both in your career and in your life?Family played a major role; Antigone Sharris, who is an engineering technology instructor at Triton; Alexandra Milinkovich, an English instructor at Triton; Jo-Ann Hansen and Shawn Summerville, my bosses at my previous jobs; and Ruben Mendoza, a colleague.
What would you describe as your strong suit?Respectful, friendly, serious, persistent, innovative, I take the initiative, open-minded, hard and smart working and straight forward.
How has Triton College impacted your life?Triton impacted my life in many ways. First, at Triton, I was able to learn the language and everything for me started from there. Second, I was able to pursue my educational goals due to its variety of programs, more specifically in engineering, which fit my background and future. Third, all the knowledge I gained at Triton opened the doors for further pursuit of my educational and professional goals. Fourth, many of my career opportunities have started because I attended Triton College. And last, it has impacted my social life. I have met many alumni who graduated 20 to 30 years ago who have shared their experiences with me.
What advice would you give to someone who would like to pursue a career in your field?I love what I do because it contributes to individuals, businesses, but more importantly, communities. I can also work in many different fields. Many others can turn their hard working habits into smart working skills.
What are your words of wisdom for current Triton students?Someone once told me that the sky is the limit, and individuals limit themselves to get as far as they want to get but not to maximize the potential of their capabilities. Don't limit yourself! And also, I would suggest to study and work in something that you truly love, and you won’t work one day in your entire life
What are your plans for the future?Right now, I'm establishing different ventures with the aim of giving opportunities to people who have not been able to find a job after graduation from either a college or university. The different ventures include an Architecture/Construction firm, a Property Management Firm, a Property Investment Firm and a Communication Solutions Firm. All of them are in different stages but all of them are generating opportunities for young graduates with the desire to succeed but lack the opportunities to work and perform. Also, after I graduate from my masters program, I would like to have the opportunity to teach and share my experiences with students.
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