Work-Based Learning Makes It Possible
Class of 2021
“Without Work-Based Learning, I wouldn’t have been able to manage full-time work and school – it just wouldn’t have been possible. “I think I’m signed up for lifelong learning at Wake Tech! I definitely enjoy learning.”
— Sarah Mason
As a single mother, Sarah Mason did it all, raising three kids while working full time to support them. When her youngest graduated from high school and enrolled at Wake Tech, Sarah felt it was time for her to do the same.
"I felt like I finally had the freedom to do that," she says, "and since I was older, I saw the value of investing in myself and the things I wanted to do."
Sarah had enjoyed a 17-year career in logistics, arranging distribution for network equipment, and found herself interested in the work of the field engineers who kept that equipment up and running. So, when she decided to back to school, she knew network management was what she wanted to study.
"I always enjoyed talking with the network engineers who were installing and troubleshooting the equipment," she says. "Once I started taking courses and learning about the different facets of networking, I got very excited. I found myself staying up late, reworking assignments – things I would never have imagined I would give my time to."
Sarah’s hard work paid off, and when she passed her CCENT certificate in the fall of 2020, her professor suggested she apply for a position at Cisco Systems. Sarah was concerned that a full-time job would get in the way of completing her associate degree in two years, which she was determined to do. She didn’t immediately apply, but she finally did after being nudged by the Network Management Program Director John Leaston. During her interview, she said the recruiter made her an offer she couldn’t refuse.
"The recruiter told me the position would qualify for Wake Tech’s Work-Based Learning program, which would make it possible for me to stay on track to earn my degree," she says.
Work-Based Learning Director Kathy Frederick says the program gives working students valuable options. "It enables students to earn college credit while applying what they’ve learned in the classroom in an actual work environment."
Sarah took two courses while in the Work-Based Learning program and says the opportunity was a lifesaver. "Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to manage full-time work and school – it just wouldn’t have been possible."
Sarah’s job will continue after she graduates, as will her education. She says the next certificate she’ll study for will be CCNA. "I think I’m signed up for lifelong learning at Wake Tech!" she says. "I definitely enjoy learning."
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