A Steep Climb

Inspiring Success - A blog from Creating IT Futures

A Steep Climb

Nov 09, 2011
WillRiveraFantauzziWill Rivera-Fantauzzi

Will Rivera-Fantauzzi was shorter than many of the other boys in school. But he decided to make up for it in toughness and by working hard. He carried that same individual fortitude to U.S. Navy boot camp, where one of the instructors spied leadership potential in him and made Will the leader of a cafeteria serving line over several other recruits.

After perching on a table to clean some lights, Will hopped to the floor and landed awkwardly. The pain was intense, but his drill instructor wasn’t sympathetic. "He asked me, "Do you want to be sent home? No? Then you better push through the pain.' "

Three months later, Will couldn’t walk. Finally, x-rays were taken, revealing a broken foot. The first surgery to repair the damage went fine. But the second surgery went badly — very badly. Will received a medical discharge. His dreams of a military career were over. Now what was he going to do?

Will In Uniform
That medical mistake — caused when a nurse failed to clear an I.V. tube of air —may have permanently impaired Will’s heart — but it didn’t destroy his drive. Attempting to parley his love of computers into something that could sustain him and his family, he completed a bachelor’s degree in information technology (IT).

Unfortunately, companies just weren’t impressed with his degree.

“Employers want to see certifications,” Will said. At that point, lacking the funds for any further training or education, Will reached out the Creating IT Futures Foundation, an organization he learned about on the CompTIA website.

With the help of the Foundation, Will was able to obtain several important CompTIA certifications, helping him to land a part-time IT support job in March 2011 with the U.S. Department of the Interior in Tulelake, CA.

Will’s certifications distinguished him from other candidates, said Greg Austin, Will’s supervisor in Tulelake. “I had a stack of applications, and he was at the top.”

That three-month appointment eventually led to other offers. In August 2011, Will began a position as a full-time certified IT specialist at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Battle Creek, Michigan, earning an annual full-time salary of over $50,000.

In his new role, Will is responsible for helping over 100 VA employees remain networked and trouble-free at their desktops. He’s doing something right: Less than three months into the job, Will received his first Certificate of Recognition from the medical center’s chief information officer for “outstanding customer service in support of Patient Notification Reports.”

Will feels his journey in the IT field is just beginning. (He’s currently working on his master’s degree.) But he already feels he’s accomplished much.

Said Will: “Life is a journey, full of right and wrong turns. It’s good to know you can. It’s rewarding to reach the top.” (Now see a short video of Will’s story.)

WillOnJob Will on the job at the VA: "It's good to know you can."

9 Comments

  1. 9 Tony C 17 Nov
    Inspiring real life story - Great Job, Will ! Best wishes from Canada :)
  2. 8 Patti 14 Nov
    Hey Will, the old saying, "where there is a will, there is a way" has been proven again.  Your drive and determination speaks volumes for your character and the type of person you strive to be.  Wishing you the best on your future endeavors!  You are an inspiration.
  3. 7 Susan 13 Nov
    Thanks for the inspiration, Will, and best wishes for a long and satisfying career - helping others is the best kind of work, and you're doing it in so many ways!
  4. 6 Dennis Berman 11 Nov
    Great job, Will. You are an inspiration to many young people who live a life of despair and don't have a safety net to see there can be light at the end of the tunnel. If they just keep plodding ahead and surround themselves with friends and family who provide positive input, life in the long run can turn around.
  5. 5 earl chambers 11 Nov
    What a great story.  I started IT after 24 years in the infantry.  I wanted something different and glad I did it. 
  6. 4 Anyel martich 10 Nov
    Heya, Will...

    You the best. Kudos, man.....
  7. 3 adene katzenmeyer 10 Nov

    Will, you are an inspiration to others. Do not give up, one door closes and another one opens. You are the proof to that saying. I am happy for you and wish you  the best in the world. 

    love and blessings

    adene katzenmeyer
    weed, calif.

  8. 2 Kevin 10 Nov
    Seriously well done, Will! 
  9. 1 Máxsimo Rosario 09 Nov
    Hello. I love this story. I think that Will is a great person. He is very smart and everybody, all of us, must  follow his example. He is a mirror for the rest of de world. In my particular case, I am going   to make mine his words "Life is a journey, full of right and wrong turns. It’s good to know you can. It’s rewarding to reach the top". My congratulations for you, Will; just  go, go and never stop. World needs people like you. Deep down my heart I see you like a hero.
    Thanks for let me write this words. Thank all of you. 
    Máxsimo Rosario

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Creating IT Futures

A 501(c)(3) charity was established in 1998 by CompTIA, the Information Technology Industry Trade Association, as a way to help people improve their lives through IT careers.

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We help populations that are under-represented in IT and individuals who are lacking in opportunity to prepare for, secure and be successful in IT careers.

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Downers Grove, IL 60515

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