Clyde Rodriguez’s earliest childhood memories are of his family home in Tijuana — tin-roofed, no running water, no electricity.
He grew up in the vineyards and garlic fields around Madera, in California’s great Central Valley, working alongside his farmworker parents.
Sometimes, the 49-year-old told Madera High School’s graduating class last week, he still can’t believe what his life has become, what he has become: a software engineer who has worked for the greats of the industry, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, who has traveled around the world creating the future.
“He led a team that built a new Windows computer operating system that could consume vast amounts of information, and he later founded a team that developed cloud technology, which helps deliver services over the Internet and store data online. He’s also advised the United Nations on the use of technology for international development” writes Carmen George in her recent profile of Rodriguez in the Fresno Bee.
But before he did that, he studied engineering at UC Berkeley — and had to fight to be readmitted after leaving school to take care of his father, who had been attacked and stabbed 20 times, George relates.
Finally, he won readmission and ended up being chosen as the keynote speaker at the College of Engineering’s commencement.
As George tells the story, “As he stood at the podium in May of 1995, the dean who told Rodriguez to stop wasting his time was seated just a few feet away.
” ‘Clearly, stubbornness can be a virtue,’ ” Rodriguez said with a smile.