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Sherrie Burke
Network Administrator, 47 years old, Caucasian, $50,000 to $80,000 Sherrie had spent several years working as a bookkeeper, and making what she calls “a minimal wage.” A little more than eight years ago, she went through a divorce, and suddenly found that her wages were no where near enough to support Sherrie and her 12-year-old son, while holding onto their house. She decided she needed a total career change. “I just went to Germanna Community College,” she says “and asked ‘what can I get into?’” The school counselors recommended she try computers, so Sherrie enrolled in night classes to find out more.

Susan Collicott
Product Support Engineer/Network Administrator, 35 years old, Caucasian, $30,000 to $60,000 While in college, Susan Collicott took a part-time job in the campus computer lab and soon left her engineering program to work with her new-found love, computer networks.

Michaele Cormier
Systems Engineer III, 39 years old, Caucasian “Get the best credentials you possibly can,” Michele says, “because you’re going to need them.” Despite the hours and dedication it takes to earn your credentials, she insists, “it’s definitely worth it. The freedom that you have, knowing that no matter what happens I can support my family, I can take care of myself, I can make my own way in the world is absolutely worth it.”

Mary T. Dugan
Computer Lab Assistant / Student, 39 years old, Caucasian, $35,000 to $100,000+ Computer Science student Mary Dugan had no knowledge of computers when she entered community college, but now this single mother of four boasts a 3.8 GPA and works at her campus computer lab.

Cordella Grimes
District Wireless NEtwork Administrator & Cisco Academy Instructor, 37 yeras old, African American, $40,000-50,000 After 8 years in the field, Cordella is getting her B.S. in Electrical Engineering

Lucy Lora
Network Support Technician, 28 years old, Latina, $35,000 – $45,000 “Although it’s hard at times,” Lucy says, “if it’s something you really like, I would say to just go for it. Give it a try.” Her own accomplishments have taught Lucy not to be afraid of a challenge. “You have to study and you have to prove yourself … to make a name for yourself,” Lucy says.

Carolina Pezua
Computer Science Engineer, 36 years old, Peruvian/Latina, $45,000 to $70,000 Originally from a mountain village in Peru, Computer Science Engineer Carolina Pezua worked long hours in the restaurant industry for 12 years before she was able to find the time to become Microsoft Networking Technology certified.

Colleen Smith
PC Technician, 37 years old, Caucasian, $24/hour and up ($50,000) “My advice for women is not to be intimidated,” Colleen says. “It is a different world, but it’s very reachable for women. And because we are multitasking individuals, I think we can use our abilities as women to bring a different approach to the technical field.”

  College Put Off for High-Tech Detour: Diploma in hand, grads favor good pay
Not every student is ready for a four-year college experience after high school; they are putting off higher education for high-paying jobs in high-tech fields.

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