Fourteen years ago, Reynaldo De Avila Antúnez and his mother migrated to the U.S.
from Cuba and moved to Hialeah, FL, located in the Miami metropolitan area. De Avila
Antúnez graduated from high school in Hialeah and when he was 20, he joined the United
States Army. During the five years that De Avila Antúnez served in the Army, he was
stationed at Ft. Hood in Killeen, TX and at Ft. Bliss in El Paso, TX. He also served
a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan.
“When I was discharged in El Paso, I moved to Midland to work in the oil and gas industry,”
De Avila Antúnez explained. “I worked for various oil companies, but working in the
oilfield wasn’t how I wanted to spend the rest of my life until retirement. So, in
August 2018, I enrolled in Midland College and started working toward credentials
in Computer Programming. Thankfully, I was able to use scholarships provided through
U.S. military veterans assistance programs to help fund my tuition.”
De Avila Antúnez said that he had always liked computers and had always thought that
he would like to have a career as a computer programmer, but obtaining the necessary
education and then finding a career in Cuba was not that easy. If De Avila Antúnez
were able to get training and land a job in Cuba, his income as a computer programmer
or software engineer would only be about $744 per year, according to Teleport.org.
In the United States, De Avila Antúnez has the opportunity to make over $40,000 a
year starting salary.
However, it isn’t just the salary that draws De Avila Antúnez to a career in computer
“Computing is part of just about everything that touches our lives from the cars we
drive, to the movies we watch, to the ways businesses and governments deal with us,”
he said. “Everything is based on computers. I like being able to use my creativity
and problem-solving skills to figure out the best code for the software or application
to give the user the best experience.”
During the time that he was taking classes at Midland College, De Avila Antúnez also
worked 30-35 hours each week at Whataburger on Interstate 20 in Midland. He has been
married to his wife Myrna for nine years, and the blended family consists of four
children ranging in ages from 2 to 16. De Avila Antúnez said that it is important
to him to find time to spend with his family, and they enjoy watching movies and playing
On May 7, he graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Programming,
and he is looking forward to obtaining a job where he can design, develop, test and
produce computers and their subsystems. While he enjoys Midland, he is also open
to relocating. In addition, he would like to continue to go to school in order to
pursue a bachelor’s degree.
According to estimates by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and
information technology jobs are projected to grow by 12 percent from 2018 to 2028—much
faster than the average for all occupations. Moreover, the median annual wage for
these jobs is $86,320, which is higher than the median annual wage for all occupations
of $38,640. Also, the BLS reports that one doesn’t need to have a four-year degree
to succeed in this lucrative field. It is not uncommon for computer programmers with
associate degrees and five or more years of experience to earn around $80,000 per
Adriana Lumpkin, Midland College Computer Programming professor said that De Avila
Antúnez is extremely hard working.
“He is one of the students that will probably go on to do great things,” she said.