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ATC Cybersecurity Networking Program Prepares High School Students for Future Careers
Nikasha N Dicks
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ATC Cybersecurity Networking Program Prepares High School Students for Future Careers

Rebecca Snider’s dream career is to work with computers for a federal agency, such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

As a high school senior, she’s getting an early start on the path toward her goals thanks to a partnership between Aiken Technical College (ATC) and the Aiken County Career & Technology Center (ACCTC).

“I knew that I would do something with computers since I was really young,” she said. “Cybersecurity was something that I’ve heard about all over the place and I had a natural interest in it.”

Snider is among a dozen high school students currently enrolled in the College’s Cybersecurity Networking Certificate program. High school seniors began taking courses in the fall 2017 semester and will complete the program in summer 2019.

The students take courses such as operating systems, CISCO router configuration, network vulnerability assessment, and computer forensics.

“The entire IT field is growing in the CSRA, of which cybersecurity is a significant aspect,” said Dr. Steven Simmons, ATC Dean of Business, Computer Technology and Training. “There is a large demand for network and program technicians with skills in coding, troubleshooting routers and switches, as well as security awareness and defense.”

Earning a college level credential shortly after graduation helps prepare the students to enter the workforce with a valuable skill set, said Kenneth Lott, ACCTC Director.

“We live in a digital, globalized society. Cybersecurity and protecting data is important in every industry,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for students to earn a college credential that can lead to so many career pathways.”

The certificate prepares students for entry-level posi­tions in information technology, said Simmons, adding that students are encouraged to view the certificate as the first step of lifelong learning.

All of the credits earned in the certificate program transfer into the College’s Associate of Applied Science Computer Technology degree, which can be earned in as little as three semesters upon completion of the Cybersecurity Networking Certificate.

Being in the program has reaffirmed Snider’s interest in the field and she looks forward to each class.

“My favorite part overall is just being able to be here around people who enjoy what I enjoy,” she said.

Aiken County high school students and parents interested in this program should contact their high school counselor, said Lott.

“It is important to think about the future and participate in activities such as this,” he said of high school students. “The earlier they begin planning for the future, the easier it will be. Preparation is the key to success.”

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