Featured Colleague – Alex Larzabal

Alex Larzabal-groveBy Stephanie McMillen

Alejandro “Alex” Larzabal, information technology director of enterprise application services, is a great example of someone who has achieved his career goals through hard work and education.

Skilled in many computer programming languages and databases, for the last seven years, Alex’s career at Valencia has transformed from being a work-study student, to a programmer, and then a manager, to his current position as director.

Before his career chapter at Valencia, Alex ’s story began on the small island of Cuba. Born to parents who taught medical English to doctors and pre-med students at a local college, Alex shared that his father still had to work additional jobs on the side to make a decent living – working in construction and selling homemade food on the streets.

“Showing great vision… my parents [ensured] I made it into the only elementary school in town that had, although very old, computers to teach programming to kids, using a language called Logo,” Alex said. His parents also took it upon themselves to teach him to read, write and speak English beginning at a young age.

When he did show an interest in computers, Alex’s parents and grandparents picked up more work to save enough money to purchase a 13-year-old computer for him. This allowed Alex to practice computer programming at home, learning an additional programming language by high school called Pascal.

“I was the only kid among my friends to own a computer, although half of the other kids’ parents made way more money than mine,” Alex pointed out.

In 2003, Alex’s mother won a Visa Lottery allowing him, his parents and sister to immigrate to the United States the following year. Sadly, this meant leaving almost everything and everyone he knew behind, including his grandparents.

Once they arrived in the United States, Alex said he wanted to work to help support his family. “But my parents pushed me to come to college instead, and were very happy to find out I could work as a student in the work-study program [at Valencia],” he said.

In 2005, Alex began his Valencia education and career simultaneously, as a full-time student with a work-study position. In the meantime, his parents worked cashier jobs at Wal-Mart, cleaned houses and did some construction work to keep up with the bills.

Since he was a young child, Alex has showed appreciation to his parents for their support and sacrifices by making sure he achieves his goals. He does this by dedicating himself to hard work – without exception.

“Alex’s personal and professional story is both remarkable and inspiring,” said Bill White, chief information officer. “At Valencia, I have had the great opportunity to watch Alex grow and develop into an exceptional leader in a very short period of time. I look forward to continuing to follow Alex on his journey at Valencia and beyond.”

Alex holds an associate’s degree from Valencia, a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University in computer science and is working towards a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Illinois Springfield.

Today, his parents are elementary school teachers and his grandmother is now here in the United States. In this free time, Alex enjoys drawing, specifically pencil sketching. Some of his drawings can be viewed here.

Know of someone doing great work at the college? Send their name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu so they can be one of our featured colleagues!

13 Comments

  • Edwin Lopez said:

    Congratulations my friend job well done, it is always a pleasure working with you.

    PMTue, 21 May 2013 22:51:32 +0000Tue, 21 May 2013 22:51:32 +0000pm13,10:51 pm

  • Bill White said:

    Congratulations Alex! What a remarkable story!

    AMWed, 22 May 2013 08:33:29 +0000Wed, 22 May 2013 08:33:29 +0000am13,8:33 am

  • Mabel Larzabal said:

    Good job!! I’m really proud of you! ! I love you!!!!

    AMWed, 22 May 2013 09:18:13 +0000Wed, 22 May 2013 09:18:13 +0000am13,9:18 am

  • Claudia S said:

    Congratulations Alex! Very well done… keep up the good job and the great person that you are…. that's the secret!

    AMWed, 22 May 2013 10:54:10 +0000Wed, 22 May 2013 10:54:10 +0000am13,10:54 am

  • Ashfia said:

    Very inspiring life facts, Alex!!!…… Found something very similar. I also won the Visa Lottery back in 1995 and came on my own at a very young age of 19 by myself after High school. It has been always so nice working with a person like you.

    PMWed, 22 May 2013 12:34:13 +0000Wed, 22 May 2013 12:34:13 +0000pm13,12:34 pm

  • Yaima Perez said:

    That's a great life story Alex! I'm very proud of all you've accomplished. Congratulations on your article!

    PMWed, 22 May 2013 15:30:49 +0000Wed, 22 May 2013 15:30:49 +0000pm13,3:30 pm

  • Paula said:

    Alex, whether you were a work-study in Admissions and Records (where I first met you) or the IT Director, you never changed. You have managed to stay grounded and focused throughout your career development. Please know that this is a very good quality to have. You always say hello to me. It doesn’t matter if you’re next to me or 20 feet away…You would just wave. You’ve earned your position at Valencia and I wish you continued success. We need more people like you. BTW, if your sister remembers me, tell her I said hello.

    PMWed, 22 May 2013 16:00:00 +0000Wed, 22 May 2013 16:00:00 +0000pm13,4:00 pm

  • Jorge Larzabal said:

    Congratulations Alex! We have always been very proud of you! You have always been an excellent son and you have deserved all our support and sacrifices. You have done a great job because it is what you wanted to do, and we always tell our students "If you really want, you can do it". It is exactly what happened, that you really wanted to do it.
    We wish you the best!
    Love you!
    Your parents and grandma

    PMWed, 22 May 2013 17:29:19 +0000Wed, 22 May 2013 17:29:19 +0000pm13,5:29 pm

  • Marina Gomez said:

    It is your dedication and devotion for everything you do; your respect to your job, family, and friends that makes you the excellent human being you are. I remember the day I went to pick you up to school and you were looking at a trophie you won in a Math Contest. You were only 7 years old. Your teacher had to tell me about you winning the first place in the competition. You never showed off about your success or your grades in school. On the contrary, you were always helping your classmates study and they and their parents were very thankful to you. This is another quality you've always had. I'm very proud of you. Thank you for making me feel I've done a good job as a mother. Love, Mom.

    PMWed, 22 May 2013 19:40:18 +0000Wed, 22 May 2013 19:40:18 +0000pm13,7:40 pm

  • Philomene D. said:

    Congrats Alex! I had the pleasure of working with you in the Business Office, and your work was exceptional. No matter what position you were in, you always find time to assist me whenever needed. You highly deserve this acknowledgement!

    AMThu, 23 May 2013 09:54:44 +0000Thu, 23 May 2013 09:54:44 +0000am13,9:54 am

  • Sergio said:

    Alex ,que alegría saber de una persona , persistente en superarse en el día a día , me alegra mucho saber de ti y por este intermedio recibe lo mejor para ti , un abrazo de Sergio el esposo de Peggy ,cuñado de Victor Wotzkow .

    AMThu, 23 May 2013 10:15:34 +0000Thu, 23 May 2013 10:15:34 +0000am13,10:15 am

  • JACQUELINE VELILLA said:

    Dear Alex
    Congratulations to you and your parents for such hard work. Your story brought tears of joy to my soul.
    The sky is the limit.
    Jacqueline Velilla
    ESOL

    PMThu, 23 May 2013 14:37:50 +0000Thu, 23 May 2013 14:37:50 +0000pm13,2:37 pm

  • Patti Smith said:

    Alex – We are lucky to have you as a part of the team! I am honored to work with you!

    AMWed, 29 May 2013 08:05:17 +0000Wed, 29 May 2013 08:05:17 +0000am13,8:05 am

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