Welcome to the start of something new at CertMag. People get certified at lots of different stages in life. And once a person starts down a certification path, one thing typically leads to another. There’s always another cert beyond the horizon. One group that intrigues us, however, is what you might call certification’s all-rookie squad. These folks are often — though not always — young, and frequently — though not invariably — still in school. College for some, high school for others, adult education programs or community centers for still others.
What they all have in common is an eagerness to learn and a sense of excitement about where certification can take them. Some are working on their first certification, while others may have picked up one or two already. Most, if not all, are focused on forging an IT future that starts with a job and leads to a better life. We occasionally meet some of you when we travel, and we’d like to find out who more of you are. That’s why we’re launching a new feature, CertStudent , to give readers a peek at one of the human faces of certification.
Watch for CertStudent on a regular basis, and contact us at editor (at) certmag (dot) com to recommend a CertStudent you know.
This week’s CertStudent is 16-year-old Alex Lageer, who’s lived in Brooklyn all his life and studies at The Urban Assembly Gateway School for Technology in Manhattan. Alex took an interest in computers at a young age. “I was probably 6 or 7 when my family bought our first computer,” he said. “It was mainly for my brother; he was in college at the time.”
The family PC, a Compaq with Windows 2000, became an instant source of fascination for Alex, particularly whenever his brother wasn’t around. “I would always try to sneak behind his back and press buttons,” Alex said. ” ‘What does this do? What does that do?’ ” As he got older, the budding technologist played around with computers and took apart electronic gizmos like remote controlled cars to see how they worked.
In middle school, Alex found himself with few friends and turned to a school robotics program. He and a handful of teammates spent time studying and building robots, and participated in competitions against other teams. “That pretty much sealed the deal,” Alex said. “I told everyone, ‘I want to stick with technology. That’s what I want to do with my life.’ ” He got his first certification, Certiport’s Internet and Computing Core Certification (IC3), at age 14, and recently earned TestOut’s PC Pro cert.
Technology isn’t the only thing, he has time for, of course: Alex is a runner, having done everything from 200 Meter and 100 Meter sprints to lung-busting cross-country races, including regular training at Van Colton Park in The Bronx. “Me and my friends call it The Woods,” he said. He’s also been participating in the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program since middle school, and hopes to eventually join the Navy and study nuclear engineering.
For now, he’s having fun at UAGST. “We built these machines,” he said gesturing at the computers in his school classroom. “Everything here, we built it from scratch.” The same way, you might say, that he’s building a future in IT.