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REFLECT ON THE PAST, PEER INTO THE FUTURE The Mission of IBAMA Corporation
“There’s no way to know what makes one thing happen and not another. What leads to what. What destroys what. What causes what to flourish or die or take another course.” –Cheryl Strayed,“Wild” A ll too often, I findmyself looking back at my life and asking“What if?”What if I never drifted into the union trades?What if I only tried tomeet others’ expectations of me?What if I never met the people who influencedme? Throughout the hundreds of times I posed these questions tomyself, I realized that everything in life is connected. Some people refer to this phenomenon as“the butterfly effect,”meaning that small changes in a complex system can create large changes elsewhere. Somuch of my life is based on changes that initially seemed small but ended up being overwhelmingly significant. Creating small changes that go against the grain with the hopes of having a bigger impact is what formed the basis for the IBAMA Corporation. My company’s mission is to reach the surprisingly large number of people that haven’t been treated fairly by the American education system— the ones whose learning styles were never considered, the ones who were never given the necessary tools to succeed, the ones who wanted to take advantage of school opportunities but were never given the chance. For a long time, I was one of those people, like a square peg trying to fit in a round hole; it just didn’t work. Here’s my story: Duringmy senior year of high school, I thought I was destined for college. Not only did I want to take part in the traditional“college experience”along with the vast majority of 18-year-olds in the country, but I was going to be one of the first inmy family to attend. This accomplishment was important tome; I think it still is. But a change in perspective made me reconsider my plans, and that had a ripple effect on the rest of my life.
In the 1970s, trade unions in California finally opened their doors tominorities and women. So, in 1973, I joined the Santa Monica Plumbers Union, where I worked in construction. Then, I decided to pursue my Journeyman’s License, so I could formmy own company. I apprenticed during the day and took classes at night, and after five years, I completedmy training. In 1980, after passing the State Contractors Licensing Test, I startedmy first company, Systems Designed Installed Plumbing and Heating. Duringmy company’s eight-year run, I was awarded a $300,000 plumbing contract for a 60-unit condominium complex, quite impressive for a smaller business at that time. This awardmeant that I was constantly working with city inspectors. So, whenmy company closed its doors in 1986, the connections I hadmade helpedme transition tomy next job as a City Building and Plumbing Inspector. It was duringmy tenure there that I started pondering the“What if”questions. Such as“What if I didn’t go against the grain?”But the more I tried to pin down an answer, the more convoluted the questions became. So instead of rackingmy brain to find the catalysts for the amazing directionmy life took, I decided instead to be patient, be thankful, and help others in similar situations. The best way I could think to help others was to forge the Urban Career Institute, an original educational approach tailored to fit various types of learners such as myself. Urban Career Institute is about innovating to propel the green revolution forward, evolving the education system to fit the needs of a diverse body of learners who are “trying to fit in”while connecting urban workers with tenable and enriching careers. Our first offering will be a seven-module online course involving renewable energy. Our aim is to provide resources for mechanics working with both electric motors and electric storage batteries. It is important for us to work with business owners on ways to incorporate sustainable products in their companies. The first-hand education that our students receive can open the path to working directly with companies that strive to preserve the planet they know and love. When you work with IBAMA Corporation, our No. 1 goal is to give you the tools, skills, andmindset that you need to create your own path for the future that you envision for yourself.
“So much of my life is based on changes that initially seemed small but ended up being overwhelmingly significant.”
Creating 21st Century Entrepreneurs • 1
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