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The youngest of six siblings, Rafael Almanzar did not work with a computer until he arrived in the United States in the eighth grade. Today, Almanzar passes this message on to his nieces and nephews: focus on school today to be able to have what you want tomorrow. A successful software engineer at Lockheed Martin, Almanzar relishes the fast-paced world of solving software problems.

mentorThe first in his family to graduate from high school, Almanzar thought he could not afford college and would have enlisted in the Army if not for his track coach.

"My track coach mentored me. That's who got me ready to apply for college," said Almanzar. "Plus, I learned a lot through my friends, sharing what worked and what didn't. Engaging with people that shared their experiences with me helped me figure out how to get to college."

Growing up in the Dominican Republic, Almanzar's schools did not have computers, only typewriters. Almanzar knows first-hand that education is the key to success, and the more you know the better you are poised for success. It is not just the people around you in school that you are compared to, but with people from around the world.

Now, with 13 years of software engineer experience, Almanzar reminds people that this is a field where, if you come up with a great idea, you can do amazing work and be incredibly successful (e.g. Facebook, Microsoft, etc.).

"We get to do what nobody else does," Almanzar said. "We take concepts and make them a reality."

Almanzar's message is simple, "Find a mentor. Study and pursue what you like, regardless of the money. And, remember, there is a lot of opportunity in science."

A perfect time to learn more about what field you may be interested in is fast approaching with the 3rd USA Science and Engineering Festival April 26-27, 2014 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Be sure to view the demonstrations and interact with the scientists, technologists and engineers of Lockheed Martin to learn what field you may like to pursue.