Success When the Going Gets Tough

February 1, 2017 | | Student Success

dante cruz

“I have a tendency to give up and run away when things get hard,” shares Dante Galindo Cruz. Dante is one of more than 16 million Americans who suffer from depression, but with the help he has received from Chattanooga State personnel, he is on track to graduate in 2018 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in programming.

Dante is the first one to admit that his feelings of being overwhelmed created an inordinate amount of stress causing him to drop out of school several times, but his determination combined with the support from Chattanooga State staff made all the difference THIS time. 

He recognizes several key staff members as “community and family” during his evolution. Recruiting Director Kisha Caldwell first met Dante during the summer of 2016 immediately became aware of his insecurities and took action to make sure he stayed in school. “She has been like a mother/big sister to me and she was the first person I ever opened up to when I enrolled in school. She would not let me drop out and later on when panic set in once again, helped me to understand the consequences of dropping below full-time status, which would mean a devastating loss of financial aid, all because I felt insecure about being back in school,” he states gratefully.

Chang Phuong, Information Technology department head and Belinda Smith, Counselor, had a similar experience with Dante, but it didn’t stop them from providing encouragement. “Mr. Phuong challenged me to think. When I didn’t believe in myself, he never gave up on me and most importantly never stopped believing in me,” says Dante. “Ms. Belinda has a positive energy that is just infectious; I might walk in with tears, but I’d leave with a smile on my face and sense of purpose; she helped me find a sense of peace and balance that I had been lacking for a very long time” he adds.

Because of that belief, Phuong chose Dante and two other students to participate in the annual Fisk Hacks, a 24-to-36 hour hack-a-thon, at Fisk University in Nashville. “The experience was absolutely amazing,” states Dante, “I had a chance to compete alongside people from colleges such as Vanderbilt, ETSU, Fisk, TSU, and Memphis University. It felt good knowing that the education I’ve received at Chattanooga State was preparing me to compete with Ivy League schools,” he adds. Dante along with teammates John Jones and Dakota Peoples walked away with a third place medal from the event.

Dante’s goal is to start his own freelance company in Web development and mobile application development. “This will grant me the freedom I need to not be constrained to one location. I can be back home with my family in México and have the ability to retire my parents, as well as help my younger brothers in their entrepreneurial endeavors. I want to make the Galindo Cruz family a household name,” he states optimistically.

Dante’s long journey to confidence and self-worth has not been without roadblocks, but he’s determined to prove to himself he can do it. Now, looking forward to his future, “the road to becoming the best is challenging and it’s not a walk in the park, but with commitment and dedication to your craft, the end will be very rewarding,” reflects Dante.

For more information about careers in Information Technology, contact Chang Phuong at 423-697-4756 or