CertStudent: More than meets the eye to college student and former pizza guy

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 CertStudent  is a recurring feature that profiles students of all ages who are pursuing certification at schools, in training programs, and on their own time (and own dime). Know an interesting  CertStudent ? Share the details with us at editor (at) certmag (dot) com.

Josh Crum is using IT and certification to transform his life.As a 7th grader, Josh Crum saw the movie Transformers and said, “Oh my gosh!” He immediately became an avid collector of the action figures. “I thought they were so awesome,” he said, “and I’ve been collecting them ever since.”

Like his favorite Transformer — and the centerpiece of his collection — Optimus Prime, Josh, 21, has changed himself from one thing into another. Now instead a young man without any firm direction, he’s a budding and skilled IT professional with a bright future.

Josh worked at a local pizza place for a few months, and said he “liked the people I worked with, and the discount on pizza.” Nevertheless, it didn’t take him long to decide to move on from being a pizza guy. “I didn’t want to be one of those guys who just hangs out around the home and has a lousy job.” His transformation led him to enroll in the Computer Information Technology program at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Lexington.

Josh is very open and honest about how difficult it was to study for his IT certifications. “It wasn’t easy. Studying for these certs was pretty stressful at times, lots of memorization and lots of Linux commands, etc., but I pulled through.”

He also described his desire to leave the program, “I lost faith half-way through and thought this just wasn’t for me.” Fortunately, Josh had a great instructor, Regina Horner, who he credits with helping him stick with it. “By far, Ms. Regina is the sweetest woman I know. During my first semester we had a rocky relationship, but it got a lot better.”

Ms. Regina’s support was a combination of high-expectations and sincere praise. “She constantly pushed me to the limit,” he said. “Always telling me that ‘I can do it,’ and she always reminded me of how smart I was.”

“When Josh first started the class, he seemed to lack the self-confidence needed to be able to make it through,” Horner said. “Once he started using our curriculum highlighting the TestOut materials, his confidence began to grow and him along with it. He’s gone through an amazing transformation. Josh will be graduating this April and has surpassed any student I’ve had to date!”

Parental advice was also instrumental in helping him pull through. “My parents told me to always keep my mind open about things, telling me ‘if you can put your mind to it you can do it.’ So I Just kept at it, studied, didn’t give up, told myself I can get through it and I did!”

Josh is indeed getting through it. Thus far he has earned TestOut’s PC Pro, Network Pro and Security Pro certifications and is currently studying for Cisco’s CCNA. He will also graduate as an IT Specialist in April.

Relaxing is also something Josh knows how to do. He enjoys movies, video games and collecting toys, especially action figures. “I have more than 230 figures,” he said. “I saw Avengers. Once the movie ended I immediately ran to the store and bought all those action figures.”

Some of his favorite video games include Shovel Knight, DOOM II (his favorite), Earthbound, Super Mario Brothers., Metroid, and The Legend of Zelda. He also likes Legos “if the sets aren’t too expensive.”

He also enjoys taking in movies with his friends. “It’s probably my favorite thing to do,” he said. “I loved the first Transformers movie, but the other three were terrible.” He also professes an appreciation for good music and said that he’d like to learn to orchestrate music. “Maybe I’ll go back to college for that,” he said. “Serious! My role model is Hans Zimmer — he wrote the scores for the Dark Knight Trilogy, Interstellar and about 150 other films.”

Josh also possess a positive disposition about life. When asked his favorite fictional character he quickly responded, “Gandalf! He’s a wise powerful, great person, and is able to find the good in anything bad.”

Pixel arto of Samus Aran's Ship from Super MetroidIn his spare time Josh also enjoys pixel art, and is very proud of his creations. “It takes a long time to do a piece,’ he said, “but it’s really satisfying to see art you’ve been working on for nearly a month be finished.”

Currently living in Cedar Grove, Tenn., Josh will be visiting Illinois after graduation to look for work. “My career goals involve working with networks because big problems are the most satisfying things to resolve.”

When asked to describe himself Josh laughingly said, “The sexiest man on earth, but I think that answer is based more on opinion than fact.” More seriously he said, “I guess I’d have to say, I’m hard-working, reliable, and pretty darn smart.”

Good traits that will definitely help him continue transforming into a successful IT professional.

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Calvin Harper


Calvin Harper is an associate editor of Certification Magazine.

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