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UAS Ketchikan Student Feature in Cisco Networking Academy Program

When Sarah arrived at the Job Center in Ketchikan, Alaska, she had more on her mind than just a new career. At the time, she was caring for her husband, a disabled veteran who had suffered two heart attacks, and their four children, ages four to 13. Sarah generated a short list of goals for a new career when she arrived that day in Ketchikan and it was to include the following: first, to make good money; second, to have flexibility, including the possibility of starting her own business; and third, to be in an interesting field. The research she conducted that day at Job Corps led to computer networking and ultimately the Cisco Networking Academy Program at the University of Alaska, Ketchikan.

Sarah enrolled at the University of Alaska and began taking the IT Essentials curriculum offered through the Networking Academy program. “When I met Sarah, she was ready to change course and get on a technical career track, but was frustrated that entry level jobs were going to the people with experience,” says Academy instructor Rick McDonald. After excelling in the IT Essentials course, Sarah’s skills from that course and her commitment to learning landed her an instructional technician job at the college computer lab. With a part-time job at the university, Sarah was on her way to building experience into her resume. She has since added a second part-time job at the university as an assistant to the network administrator.

After success in the IT Essentials course, Sarah decided to continue her Cisco studies and enrolled in Cisco Certified Network Associate, CCNA, courses. “I’m so excited about the Networking Academy program,” says Sarah. “The hands-on labs are what make a difference for me along with my instructor, Rick McDonald. He has a knack of getting down to the basic level when he teaches that makes understanding new concepts so much easier.”

Currently in CCNA 4, Sarah has also taken advantage of the flexibility of a “blended” course format where she doesn’t have to be in a classroom on campus. She can attend class meetings online and complete labs utilizing NetLab, a Cisco partner network laboratory application that allows remote configuration. “NetLab is pretty amazing! It lets you get on actual routers and switches to do configurations and it’s not a simulation – it’s the real thing!”

Academy Instructor Rick McDonald has seen the impact of the Academy program on Sarah. “The structure of the Networking Academy program combined with her creative personality has given her a real career opportunity in getting people connected.”
Sarah is now 19 credits away from a bachelor’s degree at the university. She plans to earn her Cisco Certified Network Associate certification upon completion of CCNA 4, and begin exploring opportunities in network design consulting and ultimately launch her own consulting business.

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