TSTC Graduate Eager to Use Newly Learned Skills

(WACO, Texas) – Joseph Leavelle Jr., of Lorena, is eager to use his love of technology to find just the right job.

He took a step toward that during the recently completed fall semester at Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus. He was one of three students to complete the Basic Computer Networking and Systems Administration Occupational Skills Award (OSA).

The students learned how to break down the components of networking and identify the function of each layer, then how to connect, configure and program end devices, routers and switches to create a network, said Jim Hogue, lead instructor in TSTC’s Computer Networking and Systems Administration program.

“Subjects that are normally covered in a week were given in a day in the OSA,” Hogue said. “Each lesson builds on the last, so there is actually an acceleration of knowledge as the OSA progresses.”

Leavelle, a graduate of Robinson High School, was able to work part time at a tractor supply business and devote time to his studies. He said he is grateful to his parents, who live less than two miles from him, for letting him use their internet for the online work. He estimates he devoted at least 30 hours a week to the OSA classes.

“Most of the material was pretty new,” Leavelle said. “I have experience working with computers at different jobs, but I have not done computer networking and worked on them, formatted them and worked on networks.”

He said the time spent studying was worth it. He said his favorite lessons involved using the Cisco Packet Tracer, a network simulation tool.

“I am definitely more of a hands-on learner,” Leavelle said. “I would rather see things and how they are supposed to work.”

His next step is looking for a new job.

“I am primarily looking for jobs in the information technology field,” Leavelle said. “It seems like experience is valued more in the field, but the OSA can help me get in the door.”

The OSA is a three-class, fast-paced way to meet employment needs in Texas. The OSA classes are conducted through the Cisco Networking Academy, enabling students to receive a discount to take the Cisco Certified Network Associate test. 

Leavelle said he plans to take the test before May.

Classes take a semester to complete and can motivate students to pursue an associate degree or go into the job market.

Registration continues for the spring semester. For more information, go to tstc.edu.