GCU alumnus ascends to go-to guy for LopesCloud
By Lana Sweeten-Shults
GCU News Bureau
Leo Quintero was the one his high school teachers pulled out of class when they were having computer problems – the go-to computer guy.
“When I was young, my dad brought us a Dell desktop computer,” he said. “I loved being on the internet, accessing data, accessing videos, movies – being able to communicate with people. I just kind of grew up messing with computers and learning how they worked.”
So it seemed serendipitous that he would become the go-to guy for LopesCloud, a new Grand Canyon University-specific tool designed to make the learning environment easier for the campus’ technology students.
The application, created by the Technology Department in GCU’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology in partnership with Grand Canyon Education’s IT Department, gives students access to a virtual computer on a server, otherwise known as “the cloud.”
What that means for students is that they don’t have to install software (or take up space) on their own computers to complete class assignments and can create projects, store them, access them and share their projects with their professors in the cloud.
It’s similar to how another cloud-based platform, Google Docs, operates. Google allows users to access its word processing program in the cloud, then stores those projects on their servers so they can be accessed anywhere from any device.
As CSET’s first Cloud Support Coordinator/Specialist, Quintero coordinates LopesCloud projects between the college’s faculty, who may want to use the tool in a particular course, and GCE IT, which not only partnered with the college to create LopesCloud but fully funded the development of the project.
It’s a big job that Quintero, a GCU alumnus, former president of GCU’s Latino Student Union and former Diversity Awareness Coordinator for the Associated Students of GCU, seems particularly suited to do.
Quintero didn’t have much of an opportunity to develop his computer skills in high school, a small charter school in San Diego.
“We did have one computer class,” Quintero said. It was where he learned to do basic audio and video editing.
What he knew about computers back then, he learned mostly on his own.
He took that passion with him to GCU, a university that wasn’t on his radar until he talked to his former high school track coach, who worked at GCU. Quintero knew he wanted to go to a private Christian university with small class sizes.
“That was going to be important to me,” he said. “I was able to see myself going to this school.”
He jumped right into his major, computer science with an emphasis in entrepreneurship. But it didn’t take long for him to know that computer science wasn’t where he wanted to be, so he switched majors to IT with an emphasis in cybersecurity.
He also jumped right into campus life.
When he was a freshman in 2015, he was one of the first students to move into The Grove, the then brand-new residence halls. It was a pivotal year at GCU with an incredible influx of students as ground enrollment ballooned from 12,746 in 2014-15 to approximately 15,500 in Quintero’s freshman year.
What helped him navigate his time was connecting with fellow students in the Latino Student Union.
“The process of college itself was already a shock,” said Quintero, a first-generation college student who wanted to connect with other students who had a similar cultural background. Being a member of the organization helped quell that shock.
He became the club secretary and remembers, “I was waiting for a huge binder with procedures and policies. All I got was an email and password. I thought, ‘OK,’” Quintero said with a laugh.
He moved on to become the club’s president and added another leadership role: Diversity Awareness Coordinator for ASGCU.
His proudest moments during his time as a student at GCU were his involvement in the campus’ diversity talks with President Brian Mueller. Those talks with the Executive Board, which included the Latino Student Union, Black Student Union and clubs such as the African Student Association and Hawaii Club, led to the creation of the Multicultural Office.
Quintero also worked on the University’s IT Help Desk and was part of the IT360 Learning Program, a semester-long program that typically allows eight students per year the opportunity to see how IT operates as they rotate through multiple departments, from IT Security to Networking and more.
Little did he know that much of what he did in college, from his experience on the IT Help Desk to coming up with policies and procedures for the Latino Student Union and ASGCU, would prepare him for his job as CSET’s Cloud Support Coordinator/Specialist.
When Associate Dean of Technology Dr. Heather Monthie put the word out that she was looking for someone to fill the new position, Quintero’s name came up.
“Leo’s name was brought up by several faculty as a possibility for the LopesCloud Specialist position. Faculty recognized him as a leader in his class, as well as his curiosity and ability to figure things out,” said Monthie. “His experience on the GCU IT team as part of the IT360 Learning Program and the relationships he built through that experience also made him very well prepared to jump into this brand new role.”
Dwight Farris, part of the IT/Cybersecurity faculty in CSET and one of Quintero’s professors, “was able to notice a lot of the skill sets I had,” said Quintero, though he didn’t know at first if he had enough of the skills the job demanded.
“The (job) qualifications were very high, and I didn’t have many of them because I was just coming out of college.”
But what he did have was experience, not just on the IT Help Desk and not just as a leader with the Latino Student Union and ASGCU, but as a student.
He once was one of the technology students he’s now working to help.
Quintero was there when the Technology Department transitioned from an old system to LopesCloud.
He remembers having to install all the software he needed for each class onto his laptop and how much time that would take: “The first whole month of class was usually installing and setting up virtual machines,” he said.
Now with LopesCloud, with one click, a student can access everything they need for class without having to spend so many hours installing programs. That virtual environment is already set up for them so they can start whatever project their professors have assigned them on that first day of class.
Quintero creates those virtual environments and then coordinates how GCE IT can further build the web application on which these virtual environments live.
“The college may want more features or changes, and I would help coordinate those requests with both departments,” said Quintero, who also works with Curriculum Design and Development to ensure GCE IT has what it needs to make sure the classes in LopesCloud sync with the University’s learning management system, LoudCloud.
He also documents what has worked with LopesCloud and what hasn’t.
Being one of the first to navigate this powerful new technology tool has been a big job, but it’s one he does because he knows how much it’s helping students.
“It’s a showcase of how great the University has been,” Quintero said. “I feel like this is just another example.”
GCU senior writer Lana Sweeten-Shults can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-7901.
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