TSTC Student-Veteran Receives First Grant From Military Organization

(WACO) – Russa Bolton has 285 reasons to be happy about her career future.

Bolton, 43, a Computer Networking and Systems Administration major at Texas State Technical College in Waco, recently received a $285 grant to take a network certification test next year.

“I am having to establish a standard now – how many females will come after me?” Bolton said. “The standard is pretty high now.”

The nonprofit Our Digital Heroes Foundation in Austin was created last year to highlight the need for veterans to pursue certifications in technical areas. The organization’s primary projects include matching disabled veterans to technical security work using and robots, besides administering continuing education grants.

“We figured a place to start would be to help people with technology exams,” said Robert Wagner, chairman of the board for Our Digital Heroes. “Russa was our first grantee.”

TSTC Veterans Program Administrator Rachel Mims said she heard about the program from a TSTC recruiter at another campus. She called the organization and learned more about the grant program.

“Russa is a great student and we are happy to have her,” Mims said. “She is always so cheerful and positive. I’m very glad we were able to connect her with Our Digital Heroes to help her with testing fees connected to her future career.”

Bolton wants to pursue a career in telecommunications after graduation.

“I’ve always been tech savvy,” she said. “I want to enhance my talent and get skills that work anywhere in the world.”

Bolton is originally from Swakopmund, Namibia, in southwest Africa.

“When you grow up in a desert, you have a freedom of space,” she said. “We aren’t that populated.”

She has a legal studies degree earned in South Africa and a criminal justice graduate degree from American Military University in West Virginia. Bolton has also lived in Germany and Great Britain.

Bolton came to the United States at 33 and served for six years in the U.S. Army as a combat medic. She was posted at Fort Hood, among other military installations, and served a tour of duty in Iraq.

Bolton said she liked how TSTC was supportive to non-traditional students like herself.

“I don’t think one institution can have so many special people,” she said.

For more information on TSTC Veteran Services and the Computer Networking and Systems Administration program, log on to tstc.edu.