Tatiana Contreras. Meet Tatiana, the Microsoft Office Specialist Champion for the District of Columbia! Tatiana was chosen out of 357,800 people to represent her city in the National Microsoft Office Specialist Championship in Atlanta in the spring, where she placed in the top ten out of 149 finalists. She is a high school graduate who has earned 16 information technology (IT) certifications, with a promising career ahead of her. However, this was not always the case.
Tatiana, her parents, and her two brothers fled El Salvador when she 13 years old and settled in Washington, DC. Tatiana enrolled in school and worked to learn English and adjust to her new country. She was not a serious student in high school, but with the support of her family, she managed to graduate and get a job. That was when she became pregnant with her son, Nayden.
“Having my son changed me. I did not pay attention in high school, but I knew I had to be more serious when I became a parent.”
Tatiana entered the LAYC Career Academy when Nayden was four months old. “The first few months were very hard. I was going to school full-time, working part-time, and taking care of an infant. I was exhausted.” Tatiana credits her teacher, Mrs. Varner, for encouraging her to pursue IT. Tatiana was surprised to find out that she had a talent in this area. She felt proud when she obtained her first certification. “I went home and told my parents, ‘Look what I got!’”
Now Tatiana has 16 certifications and one citywide and one national award for her accomplishments. She could not have done this without the support of her family and the LAYC Career Academy. With education as her passport, Tatiana’s future is bright and promising.
Bruce Beuzard IV has always loved technology and building things. As a small child, he loved Legos and talked about becoming an engineer, even though he did not really know what that was. His love for technology grew as he did, and during his teenage years, he became the head of his school’s robotics team and built his first computer. Besides being a tech whiz, he also loved to defy stereotypes: Bruce was the captain of his high school football team.
Bruce’s academic career continued on a fantastic upward trajectory until his second semester of college. His parents lost their jobs, and Bruce was concerned about his younger siblings. He needed money for food and rent as his scholarship did not cover all of his expenses. He took a job with TJ Maxx and started working long hours on top of a full engineering course load at The George Washington University. He soon fell behind on his school work and was put on academic probation.
Bruce wanted to continue his education, but he knew he could not go back to college at the time. That is when he found LAYC Career Academy.
“I applied for an IT job at the DC Department of Employment Services, but they said I was not qualified,” Bruce remembers. “I am so happy that I didn’t get it because I never would have found LAYC Career Academy if I had gotten that job.” Bruce started at the Career Academy in October 2018, and by December he had already earned 16 IT certifications. “What I love most about the Career Academy is how self-paced it is. I used to be bored in high school math classes. I am never bored at Career Academy because I get to work at my own speed.”
So what’s next for Bruce? While enrolled at Career Academy, he plans to complete an IT internship and get as many certifications as possible. After his internship, Bruce will be eligible for an IT job with a good salary to help pay for his engineering degree. And in the long term? “Someday, I am going to run my own robotics company.”
Nancy Rubi is a student who has really benefitted from personalized learning. Nanci has two big goals: She wants to read on a college ready level and she wants to complete an IT internship. Every morning when Nanci comes to school she sets daily goals that are related to her big goals and fills her schedule solely with reading and IT classes to help herself get there. “I love personalized learning because I get to do exactly what I need and want to do every day. I really see how much progress I am making every day.”
Nanci joined the LAYC Career Academy after earning her diploma from Dunbar Senior High School. Nancy wasn’t sure what to do next—her counselor suggested she check out the Career Academy, and it turned out to be a perfect fit. When she’s not in class or at work, you can find her in LAYCCA’s Computer Lab, picking up new skills. She sees herself excelling in a tech-support position—Abner Soto, the Career Academy’s IT Coordinator, says he couldn’t agree more.
- 95% of LAYCCA students are working or in college within six months of graduation
- Our students earned more than 450 IT certifications in the last two years
- 90% of students who attempt college credits earn them through LAYCCA’s college program
- More than 50% of LAYCCA students gain two to three grade levels in reading every year that they are in the school
- Graduates of LAYCCA’s Medical Assistant program increase their wages by an average of 50% from pre-enrollment to employment as a Medical Assistant after completing the program