Juan Rodríguez is the founder and CEO of Integrated Digital Technologies Corp., which in 16 years has trained more than 27,000 people in computers and information technology in California.

"Our public are the people who work in IT in corporations, and also individuals who need education in computers at all levels, from the basics to the most advanced and recent" technologies, Rodrígueztold Efe.

At the company headquarters in Glendale and Santa Ana, the 45-year-old Venezuelan has worked to make his company one of the very few centers for education and training supported by almost all the computer giants.

I learned the value of hard work and education. For me, that has been the key to success.

- Juan Rodríguez

"We're practically the only institution in California that offers a curriculum that's 100 percent authorized by Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, Novell, Cisco, CWNP, Comptia, EC-Council, SCP, Intel, EMC, as well as other well-known providers. That gives us a good bit of strength that the corporations have come to appreciate," he said.

IDT has billed more than $30 million, a figure that is rather significant for an immigrant like Rodríguez who came to the United States in 1984, when he was just turning 18.

Because of his intelligence and good grades, he had obtained a scholarship in his native country and began to study at Pasadena City College, but an unfavorable change in the exchange rate forced the institution that had awarded him the scholarship to shut down its aid programs.

"My option was to return, because my parents did not agree to pay for my studies, but I said to myself that I could not return without achieving what I had come to seek and I stayed," he recalled.

To be able to pay for his studies and living expenses he worked several minimum-wage jobs. He transferred to California State University Los Angeles, where he earned degrees in applied mathematics and computer sciences.

He then began to work in corporations as well as in training institutions, thus starting his efforts in the educational field.

In 1995, he took a leap of faith and founded his company, beginning it in a small office of 1,250 square feet, and at the end of his first year he moved the firm to another office that was twice as large. IDT now occupies a 14,000-square-foot building.

"The growth is due to the workforce and our reputation has grown thanks to the good references given about us by our customers, who see the results of our work in ... highly trained workers to confront any technological challenge," Rodríguez said.

He added that in recent years he has also devoted himself to taking care of people who have lost their jobs, training them in computer work and helping them to find new employment.

"I learned the value of hard work and education. For me, that has been the key to success," he said.

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