This special Ohio University Lancaster | Pickerington series highlights the ways in which regional campus students are imagining their possibilities and using their education to transform their own life and transform the communities in which they live. To read other "Imagine Your Possibilities" stories, click here.
Lancaster – November's Ohio University Lancaster | Pickerington "Imagine Your Possibilities" story is one that reaches far outside of Fairfield County. To find out how far, all you have to do is "Google" it.
Gabriel Faria used his degree in Technical and Applied Studies from OUL to transform his own life and transform communities around the world – virtually. The 24-year old Faria currently works at Google in New York as a business systems engineer.
"I develop software and tools for people who work at Google – also known as 'Googlers," said Faria. "Google is so big that it takes a lot of work to run the company itself. We have to develop our own software tools because we're on a scale that the regular market isn't ready for."
The interview conducted for this article with Faria was done, at his request, via a Google Hangout video chat. It's the world that he lives in, and Faria is very comfortable there.
"Many people ask me how I got a job at Google. I tell them that I went to google.com and looked for the list of open positions. Then I sent in my resume, like a normal job," said Faria. "My wife, Jennifer, who also graduated from OUL, was in Professor Candice Thomas-Maddox's class one day when Thomas-Maddox showed a video about working for Google, and Jennifer told me I should apply. Now, when my job moves us to new locations or I have to travel for work, Jennifer jokingly blames it on Candice."
Faria lived in Lancaster when he attended classes at OUL. But, he's not from Fairfield County or even Ohio for that matter. Faria was born in Brazil and came to Lancaster in 2006, at the age of 16, as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student. He grew close to his host families and decided to come back to Lancaster for college.
"I thought at first that I wanted to live on campus and go to a residential college, but that was too expensive for me," said Faria. "At OUL, I finished my degree in three years. I worked for facilities and then computer services. I was the first student to work the Help Desk in the library."
Faria graduated in 2011. He said his experience at OUL was a positive one. The Farias had such a connection to the campus that they held their wedding on the covered bridge in 2012.
"At Lancaster, you can get a lot closer to people because it's a smaller campus," said Faria.
Faria's first job for Google was as a Techstop Connect technician in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In October, 2013, he was promoted, and the Farias moved to New York. Faria has traveled all over the world with Google, and the possibilities are endless. He is currently working on his master's degree in computer science.
Mandi Custer, OUL's Director of Development, noted how Faria's story aligns with her work for the campus to find funding for students to discover their promise. "His story includes things we think about every day: financial affordability, a quality education, faculty encouragement. When I 'imagine the possibilities' of where Gabe will go from here based on what his OUL experience provided, I am inspired to raise funds to help other students like Gabe received the gift of education."
If you wish to support students such as Faria with a financial contribution to the Ohio University Lancaster Campus and Pickerington Center, please contact Mandi Custer, director of development, 740-654-6711, ext. 234 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.