But when the recession hit and the housing bubble burst, it became clear that what had been a solid income stream was quickly disappearing.
“By the end of 2009, it was evident I had to get out and start over,” said Ronchetti, now 42 and a Riverside resident. “I just bit the bullet. It was a scary transition.”
Ronchetti signed up for classes through Chaffey College’s Cisco Networking Academy. Over the course of two years, he spent three days a week, from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., in class and studying in the lab. A self-motivated learner, he taught himself the intricacies of networking software and how to configure routers and switches to enable computers to share information. He completed the program in May.
“I just made it a No. 1 priority in my life,” he said. “It had to be something that I loved, and it had to be something that had a lot of opportunity monetarily and personally.”
His instructor Jim Kerr was impressed by his student’s dedication. Not only did Ronchetti earn a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification, but he placed at the top of two prestigious computer networking competitions.
In 2011, he competed in the Cisco NetRiders Competition and took first place in the state. He then went on to the international competition, going up against the top talent in the United States and Canada. Then, this spring, he placed third in the Western Regional Cyber Defense Competition held by Cal Poly Pomona.
In April, while completing the Cisco internetworking program, Ronchetti was hired to work as a network engineer for a large IT managed services firm. In his new job, he configures network devices and assists clients with troubleshooting their networks when connectivity issues arise.
“He really worked hard and he made it,” Kerr said. “He’s exceptional in that he basically started out with nothing and he worked his way up.”
About the Desert Regional Consortium of Community Colleges: The Desert Regional Consortium consists of 13 community colleges and two community college districts in Riverside, San Bernardino and Kern counties. The consortium assists colleges in providing professional development opportunities and designing programs to improve workforce training and technical education. The consortium was formed to address the economic development needs of industry, government and the community.
More information about the Consortium: www.desertcolleges.org
Consortium members: Barstow College, Cerro Coso Community College, Chaffey College, College of the Desert, Copper Mountain College, Crafton Hills College, Mt. San Jacinto College, Moreno Valley College, Norco College, Palo Verde College, Riverside City College, Riverside Community College District, San Bernardino Community College District, San Bernardino Valley College, Victor Valley College