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Filipino American Student Finds Pathway to Cybersecurity Career in San Diego

May 29, 2024

Raven Antiquiera Speaking about IT strategy during conferenceWhen Raven Antiquiera graduated from CSU Northridge, he expected to land at least an entry level information technology (IT) job. But was met with closed doors to gain access into the highly competitive field. His future changed when he earned a CyberHire internship through the San Diego College of Continuing Education.

Now Antiquiera is testing to become one of only 200 people in the world to be named a certified cybersecurity assessor with the U.S. Department of Defense. 

While widely successful today, the 29-year-old faced plenty of hardships to get to where he is. 

“There were times where I felt pretty lost. I was frustrated that I couldn’t show work experience on my resume because I just wasn’t given a chance,” explained Antiquiera, who before becoming a cybersecurity professional was considering a career change to a linguistics professor or an air force officer.

Giving up was not in Antiquiera’s repertoire. His father served 24 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a Senior Chief Petty Officer. Both he and Raven’s mother were born and raised in the Philippines. “My dad had a 1% chance to make it, he was recruited by the Navy in the 80s based on his high English proficiency and my mom grew up in bamboo housing (nipa hut). They were separated for months at a time due to military training and deployment.”

Antiquiera was the first of his family to be born in the United States. As a first-generation American, he feels a sense of pride to support his parents, brother, and his family overseas. “Their life was difficult but they never showed it. As an adult, I see how my parents struggled and they didn’t want me to struggle in the same way.”

Antiquiera was admitted into San Diego State University (SDSU) in 2013, where he was placed on academic probation. He left SDSU to enroll at Southwestern College and excelled academically. He transferred to CSU Northridge to achieve a bachelor of arts in sociology.

After graduating from Northridge in 2019, he moved back to San Diego eager to find an IT career. “My applications were denied during Covid. I applied to countless government agencies and was faced with many “no’s”, rejection, and one yes but I failed to move onward because I didn’t have any real-world experience,” he said. “I had to pivot, I started to look deeper into the jobs I wanted to see what the qualifications were and where to gain those skills.”

Not being able to get a foot in the door is common for new graduates. Information security analysts need a bachelor’s degree in a computer science field, along with related work experience. Employers prefer to hire analysts who have professional certifications.

Inspired to try again at his dream with the U.S. Department of Defense, Antiquiera found a good break through the College of Continuing Education and CyberHire. “At this point to get an IT position, I was looking at the UC system and obtaining specialized certifications that were hundreds of dollars. Both were unreasonable at the time. Then I saw CyberHire on the news and applied immediately.”

The next day Antiquiera was given an interview for admission into CyberHire. “I was so excited, it felt unreal that the college provided a completely free pathway to work with the city, had government ties, and offered certification waivers. It literally had everything I was looking for.”

In 2022, the College of Continuing Education was designated a Preferred Provider for IT and cyber talent by CyberHire. San Diego Workforce Partnership, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp, and the Cyber Center of Excellence then joined forces to launch CyberHire — a program designed to address the region’s growing demand for Cybersecurity skilled workers by creating accessible pathways for the underemployed.

Through CyberHire Antiquiera enrolled in the College of Continuing Education to complete a desktop technician certificate and landed an internship with Dispatch Tech, a top IT solutions firm. “The way my professor broke down the course into concepts, made it accessible for people like me to learn complex strategies. Within weeks, I was repairing computers, learning hardware fundamentals, networking and IT basics.”

Following his internship with CyberHire, Antiquiera was hired as the Chief Information Security Officer for Dispatch Tech. “I am proud to say the company’s CEO Aaron Wyant is my mentor. He really took a chance on me while I was in school.”

Raven with his mom, dad, and father, retired U.S. Naval Senior Chief Petty OfficerFor no-cost, students are earning certificates in Desktop Technician (includes A+ and N+), Security Essentials, Cybersecurity Analyst, Windows System Administration, Linux Server Administration, Web Server Technologies and Applications, Network Technician (Cisco), Cloud Solutions AWS-Associate, and Virtual Datacenter from the College of Continuing Education.

Employment of information security analysts is projected to grow 32 percent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median annual wage for information security analysts was $120,360 in May 2023.

Although CyberHire is not currently accepting applications, Antiquiera is helping students like him find IT internships. “Everyone should be able to do something they want to do. But you can’t do it, if you can’t see yourself achieving it. I show them exactly what to do to break into a field that has a low probability of making it.”

Antiquiera is hopeful more Filipinos will enter the IT field. He shared, “the big thing in the Philippines is instilling a value of sustainability. In our culture we are encouraged to join the military or medical field; but we don’t realize that IT is actually very sustainable and lucrative.

He concluded, “looking back I couldn’t have imagined this rapid success. It's been absolutely hectic how fast my career has been accelerating. But I am so grateful for each opportunity and am looking forward to helping my parents build their home in the Philippines, supporting my brother who is coming home from the military, and providing a good life for my fiancée.”

Allura Olympia Garis
Brenna Leon Sandeford