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Junior Earns Azure Certification
Xander Lewis

Warren County Career Center values its partnerships with area organizations and industries that give students connections to career exploration and development. INTERalliance of Greater Cincinnati, a non-profit organization that connects students to opportunities in Information Technology, and Apprenti, a Pre-Apprenticeship to Apprenticeship IT Partner through the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, are two of many WCCC partners who work with our students and teachers.

In Fall 2020, INTERalliance offered area high schools an opportunity to develop a partnership with Microsoft to offer training and certification in Azure, a cloud computing service created by Microsoft for building, testing, deploying and managing applications and services. 

The pilot group of 14 area instructors took a two-month training from Instructor Marcus Twyford,who offered the Azure Fundamentals Train the Teacher session through the INTERalliance of Greater Cincinnati and a grant from Microsoft. The group included WCCC IT and Cybersecurity instructors Brett Kottmann, Franklin; Jenifer Conard, Springboro; Joshua Smith, Waynesville; and Diana Marks, WCCC Atrium Campus.

WCCC Career Development Coordinator Yvonne Kaszubowski also joined the group to learn more about the opportunity. Each teacher was implementing the program in different ways in their classrooms. Mrs. Kaszubowski networks with chambers of commerce, business and industry to develop more opportunities for WCCC students.

“Apprenti Cincinnati through the Cincinnati Chamber is working to solve workforce and talent pipeline issues by working with our IT Pathways,” Mrs. Kaszubowski said. “Credentials in the IT field drive employment opportunities for students at many companies because they prove that a student has the specific skill sets that a company needs. This certification is an opportunity to begin the steps to an apprenticeship in the IT field.”

The Ohio Department of Education approved several Microsoft Azure certifications for students to earn points toward graduation. These include Microsoft Azure Fundamentals, AI Fundamentals, and Data Fundamentals. They also include Microsoft Certified Administrator Associate, AI Engineer, Data Scientist Associate, Developer Associate and Security Engineer Associate.

The Springboro/WCCC IT Satellite program is offering this to students as an extension project in the classroom. Their first student, Xander Lewis, a junior, has completed the labs and has passed his exam in Microsoft Azure Fundamentals.

“I decided to go for Azure certification because Mrs. Conard recommended it and I saw it as a nice introduction to cloud computing as a whole,” Xander said. “Since I had just finished another certification for normal, private networking, I wanted to learn more about renting server space through the cloud.”

Xander said he plans to focus the rest of this year on earning his CompTIA certifications, including A+ and Network+. For his senior year, he plans to take Python and web development and possibly more if he decides to attend the University of Cincinnati. The WCCC IT programs offer a pathway with UC for students to earn their freshman year at UCIT in high school, so they enter as a sophomore after high school graduation. Xander has definite plans for his future in the IT field.

“With AP Computer Science last year, I decided I would be majoring in either Computer Science or Software Development, and with Networking this year I have been able to earn a lot of certifications that will both help me get into better colleges and show proficiency for job applications in the future,” he said. “In 10 years I should have already graduated from college, and I plan to be hopefully working for some large tech company such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc. Whenever I decide I have worked there for long enough I will move out to the country and do freelance IT work if everything goes to plan.”

Azure Fundamentals Train the Teacher Instructor Marcus Twyford said INTERalliance is planning to offer more advanced Azure training in the future. The grant from Microsoft, Project Triad, covers the cost of exams for the students. “Thanks to Jenifer (Conard) for helping Xander and other students take the leap,” he said. “My advice to students is to stay curious, be nimble, try many things. Keep an open mind, look for opportunities that come your way, and don’t be afraid to try new things.”