By Suzanne Bowness

Since 2011, Eddie Villarta has been a Carleton University employee, working in the Information Technology Services (ITS) Department as a network services manager. Now he’s also a graduate, with a Master of Engineering in Technology Innovation Management.

Villarta’s journey to Carleton and through graduate school had their challenges and rewards. Immigrating from the Philippines in 2004, Villarta always wanted to tackle a master’s degree, but with a busy life that included full-time work, family life (a wife and two sons now aged 14 and 22) and volunteer commitments, the idea stayed on the back burner. But in 2016, attending a TED talk sparked inspiration to enrol as a part-time student.

Partway through his first term, Villarta faced a new challenge when his father became ill with cancer back in the Philippines. Villarta went home a couple of times (his father eventually passed away) and says he’s grateful his professors gave him extensions and support.

A headshot of Eddie Villarta against a plain white background.

Eddie Villarta

“My professors would email while I was in the Philippines saying: ‘Don’t even think about your studies right now or anything besides your dad.’ I really appreciated that, they were very understanding,” he says, adding that his boss Bruce Clemmer has also been very supportive.

Now that he’s finished his degree, Villarta is putting it to use right away. He is creating a cybersecurity startup with some friends and he’s also teaching a course on software design at Carleton’s School of Information Technology.

“Completing my master’s degree gave me the confidence to ask about opportunities and start teaching,” he says.

Villarta also made several friends in the program and says the return to the classroom refreshed his big-picture thinking about his field and he’s looking forward to developing transformational network technology innovation at Carleton.

“Work is very task driven, but as a student you get to analyze more and your professors give you new ideas and perspectives,” says Villarta, adding that he gained insights from international students he had as classmates.

Villarta says his advice for others embarking on part-time studies includes being careful with time management (he gave up some of his volunteer work to take on the program) and prioritizing schoolwork. And just to keep going.

“Be very determined because it’s not an easy thing to do. Never give up.’’

Thursday, November 7, 2019 in
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