Arvin Tolibas

For Arvin Tolibas, the road to the University of Minnesota’s Information Technology Infrastructure (ITI) program began with video games.

Tolibas was born in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, and there he spent a lot of time playing Zelda, Pokemon, and Call of Duty. When he moved to the US, he remembers becoming addicted to video games: he was a hardcore gamer. Fortunately, that addiction evolved into a healthy conclusion—to pursue a career in technology.

“I intended to finish a two-year degree at a community college; however, I still felt that I needed to learn more about computers,” Tolibas says. “I decided to attend the U of M, and it was there that a friend told me about the ITI program. After checking out the program description online, I knew it was right for me.”

Like many students in the ITI program, Tolibas split his time between work, school, and family—not an easy feat. Schedules fill up to the brim, there never seem to be enough hours in the day, and coursework forces students to hunker down to deeply process what they’re learning. The Intro to Operating Systems course, for example, is not the kind of material you can casually read before bed. It’s dense stuff, and it requires the concentration of a gamer whose eyes remain riveted to a screen.

“There have been times over the course of my completing the ITI program that I’ve wanted to stop school for a little bit, just so I could focus on working instead,” Tolibas says. “But if I did that, I might not have gone back at all.”

He points to his parents and siblings as his day-in-day-out motivation for his academic perseverance. “They’ve helped me come this far,” he says, “and in return, I’ll graduate, get a higher-paying job, and repay them.”

When he looks back on his experience in the ITI program, Tolibas says he was pleasantly surprised by the knowledge and expertise his instructors brought to the classroom. “They share on-the-job insights with their classes,” he says. "It’s an invaluable advantage for anyone preparing to find work in the IT field."

After taking a moment to celebrate his diploma, Tolibas will dive into the job search. He is confident that the experience and knowledge he gained in the ITI program will help him succeed. And, like a true video game guru that just mastered one level, he is ready to take on all that the future will bring.