CATLab Blog Ryley Oroku: Using Passion and Talent to Benefit Others
Ryley Oroku, Westmont’s warm-spirited Business Process Analyst and API Programmer, embodies the CATLab core value of Commitment. Ryley has worked with Westmont’s technology for the last seven years. As a member of the first-ever CATLab and a 2020 Westmont alumnus, Ryley gained development operations skills which he uses today as he accomplishes vital data conversion for the college’s major student information system replacement project. Thanks to his time at CATLab, Ryley is able to give back to the community that he cares about as an essential member of Westmont’s IT team.
As a kid, Ryley remembers he had a love for technology, but didn’t know how he could incorporate it into his life: “Growing up, I didn't really know what I wanted to do. In elementary school, my friends and I were all really into technology, but we didn’t know that it could be a job. Later on, when I got my first computer—that was the coolest thing ever—I remember opening it in the car outside the store, but since it wasn’t set up yet I just kept opening and closing the chess app.”
In high school, Ryley started creating art and soon he wanted to combine his love for technology and art to make video games. As a result, he chose to pursue computer science and studio art at Westmont. Ryley shared that during college, his vocational perspective changed. “In some sense, I’ve shifted my focus. I used to think about what I liked to do and try to figure out ways to do that. Now, I think: how can I do this thing that I like to do for other people’s benefit? For example, I’ve put less of an emphasis on making video games and more on doing work that is beneficial to people.”
After graduation, Ryley chose to return to Westmont to live out his desire to do work that is beneficial to people. “At Westmont, I get to help give back—I benefited from my Westmont education and I’ve seen that Westmont does a good job of teaching students about the liberal arts and Christianity. It’s rewarding to work in a role where I can support an institution I believe in and empower others to do their jobs well.”
Ryley is particularly conscious of the damaging effects of commercialized technology. He openly shares about the ways his attention span has diminished after working in technology for years, and says that he values serving others, not the bottom line. “Thankfully, at Westmont, I can focus on caring about my users. Instead of making something addictive that will keep you paying for more, I’m developing things that meet a specific department’s needs.”
Finally, Ryley shared that CATLab has grown in some amazing ways since he graduated from the program. “My first summer with CATLab, there were eight of us working in a tiny space in front of Zak’s office, and now we’re up to at least 20. Back then it was just developers, but now we have marketing and sales. It's really become a liberal arts program. As CATLab gains attention and funding, it’s becoming a selling point Westmont can use with prospective students. When I was in CATLab, we could only handle one department, but now we’ve done things for the housing, admissions, nursing, and education departments—we’ve really expanded our scope.”
Photo: Ryley is third from the left. Story: Adapted from the 2022 CATLab Magazine.