Meet Our Students

A new kind of College, Calbright is open to all Californians who have a high school diploma. With our flexible, self-paced programs, students move ahead in their courses based on the skills they learn, not hours in the classroom. We remove the barriers that traditionally limit access to education and job training and make it possible for students from every part of the state. Here are just some of our students, and their stories.

Hector, from San Pedro

Hector immigrated from Mexico as a child and lives in San Pedro. He was excited about the IT support program when he first enrolled, but long hours at work meant that he had to pause his training. When he began working from home during the pandemic, he re-enrolled. With the help of a Calbright career coach, he updated his resume and landed a job at a robotics company when the hiring manager heard he was training for his industry-recognized CompTIA A+ certification. After completing the IT Support program, he plans to enroll in Calbright’s Cybersecurity program.

“Computers were always something I was interested in, and now I have the opportunity to really study them.”

Read Hector’s Story in his own words

Brandi, from Los Angeles

Brandi’s life changed after she contracted covid in 2020, and it turned into a long struggle.  Major symptoms lasted for over three months, and Brandi wasn’t able to return to work for over a year.

“After all that lost time,” she said, “I knew I had to pivot. I had to do something to get ahead.”

Brandi works in Los Angeles at a start-up that just went public, and saw that the fastest way to advance was to become an expert at using Salesforce.

“We use Salesforce all the time,” she said. “There’s opportunities for people who have expertise in it.  I want to grow with my company, and I believe this can be the next step for me.”

So Brandi looked around, trying to find the best option to get a valuable Salesforce credential in a short time.  

That’s where she found Calbright.  

“I did my research, and this was a good fit for me, and it’s free.”

She says the experience has been better than she thought an education could be.

“I really like the modules. I really like the flow. It’s easy to digest, and it’s fun,” Brandi said. “I work nights, so at night is when I really get a chance to sneak away and study. And I actually want to get on the computer and read for class.”

Brandi’s confident that this can lead to a good next step. “Companies use Salesforce for everything,” she said, “and there’s a lot of room for advancement.”

Monica, from Sacramento

Monica is a single mother of three, born and raised in Sacramento.  She has “a passion to fix things” but no background in technology beyond her experience using computers for work and school.  She had tried an online for-profit program without success. Today, Monica is in our IT program pursuing a more stable future for her family.

“I think this is one of the best things to come to Californians, especially in a time like this.  I can’t wait to get my hands on a Calbright future.”

Here’s what else she says about Calbright:

Eugene, from Long Beach

“I love working with PCs, I’ve been doing it for years, but I was never doing it professionally. So when I started Calbright, I sometimes suffered from imposter syndrome: could I really start a career in IT? Then one day, I noticed my PC was being really slow, so I started to troubleshoot. I ended up switching out the operating system to make it faster and smoother than ever – and I realized that’s exactly what I’ve been studying in my Calbright classes! I was surprised at how much I’d learned. This is real, and now I’m telling other students: don’t feel like an imposter. We can really do this.”

Trinidad, from Riverside

Trinidad lives in Riverside, takes care of her mother, helps her partner with her 91 year old dad, has a 2-3 hour commute from Riverside to Venice, and she’s been retired twice already.

“I feel [Calbright] was divine intervention. Back in September the non-profit I currently work for and have been there for the last 18 years came close to having to shut its doors. Is Calbright the right fit for me? Yes, please know it is. My goal is to become some sort of IT / Cybersecurity customer support.”

Here’s what else Trinidad says about Calbright:

Alex, from Los Angeles

An IT consultant with an Associate’s Degree, Alex is passionate about getting as many certifications as he can.

“I have a family, my wife and son, so I’ve been trying to get a good stable income so that I can support us and we can live a more prosperous life,” he says. “Keeping current, having the right certifications that tell employers I know how to do what they need, is very important to me.”

As a result, he’s used every online learning portal and college course available to him. After getting burned by a for-profit college, where he spent a lot of money to get a degree that he feels hasn’t helped him, he’s become very discerning about career education.

“I’ve tried everything, and Calbright is up there with the best,” he says. “The service and support is as good as a full university with degree programs, but it’s free and easy to use. Their courses are aimed towards getting you high-value certifications which are highly pertinent in the field of Information Technology.”

Read Alex’s story in his own words.

Deborah, from Madera County

Deborah lives in Madera County. After 10 years as a stay-at-home mom, she was looking to re-enter the workforce and enrolled in our medical coding program.

“My experience with Calbright so far has been amazing. It is a user-friendly program and they have provided all the necessary books and manuals for studying. I have had routine follow-up phone meetings with student advocates wanting to know how my studies are going and how they can improve my experience.”

David, from Los Angeles

David lives in Los Angeles and has a background working on municipal finance for local governments. He’d just started a new job with a consulting firm implementing IT solutions when the pandemic hit, was laid off, and realized he needed new technical skills if he wanted to continue working in technology. He started at Calbright, but when his mother died and he was unable to see her due to covid, he lost his motivation to work and pursue his future. He credits the Calbright success team, which reached out to him and scheduled regular check-ins, for getting him back on track.

“I was surprised at how influential that was. It got me motivated again, it was nice to have a human face to check in with after being so isolated. It was friendly and a relationship. It helped me get back on track.

That’s the combination that I like about Calbright. It isn’t just working through the modules. Having that human interaction, even if it was on Zoom, was really helpful.”

Read David’s story in his own words

Kevin, from Simi Valley

Kevin graduated from Calbright’s IT program and then enrolled in our Cybersecurity program, and has nearly completed his certification

Calbright has given me hope.

I survived covid but I struggled through the pandemic financially and had to switch gears from being a commercial public transportation driver to multiple hat wearing assistant at my employer. With Calbright I was able to transition into IT and now I am almost done with the Security + training. I longed for an opportunity like this for years, and now I finally get to take my test and advance my career in IT.

I am beyond grateful for the counselors and academic advisor.

I hope I can pay it forward here at Calbright in the near future. Thank you Calbright!

Michael, from Los Angeles

Michael had just moved to Los Angeles with a new baby and a wife recovering from a difficult pregnancy. He was working in retail, and wanted to find a route to a better life. He needed flexible hours, and didn’t think online college was possible because he had terrible internet and no computer. Calbright was able to give him everything he needed – including a mobile hotspot and a chromebook.  He was also grateful for the direct support.  

“I was never much into social media or any of those kind of platforms.  But (Priya) helped me set up my LinkedIn profile and set up my webpage.  She was super helpful. Career Services ended up helping me connect with so many other people who could shed insight on what I was doing, on ways to navigate my path and goals and then help me out.  So many lights started turning on. I was able to land a really good job interview already.”

Read Michael’s story in his own words

Shukria, from San Francisco

A community college graduate who owns her own business, Shukria completed two Calbright programs, earning her credentials in IT and Cybersecurity.

“Calbright’s instructors and counselors were always available to provide valuable emotional and academic support. I wasn’t doing it alone, and now that I’ve got my cybersecurity certificate, I’m looking forward to finding a job where I will gain experience and use my knowledge. Calbright’s career coach and career services staff are helping with that, too.  I feel blessed.”

Mia, from Brentwood

Mia wants to transition her career into sales or revenue operations

“Calbright’s a free program, but it provides a lot of value. They offer many resources like workshops, academic counseling, and career coaching, all of which can easily be accessed on programs like Slack.”