To have control over my career path over the long haul was a definite advantage for me, starting at a community college.
Southwestern Community College
Government & Industry Liaison at Drake Software
Jared Ballew chose Southwestern Community College (SCC) for several reasons. He planned to work full time during college, and SCC offered him a flexible class schedule and an affordable education in his chosen field— information technology.
Jared graduated in 2007 with an associate degree in network administration and support, as well as a Cisco Certified Network Associate certification in routing and switching—credentials earned through a tuition reimbursement program from his employer, Drake Software, one of the nation’s largest tax software firms. He eventually received a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from East Carolina University.
Along the way, Jared rose to become government and industry liaison at Drake, and now serves on several national cybersecurity panels, including the Security Summit and the Electronic Tax Administration Advisory Committee, which advises the IRS on combatting identity theft and tax refund fraud.
Attending SCC was one of the best decisions Jared says he’s ever made. There, he took advantage of small classes, online options and multiple campus locations near his company in Franklin, NC. “What I would tell students today is that many businesses are looking for students that have the knowledge, and who have the ability to apply themselves to a specific task,” Jared said. “It’s not necessarily about the level of the degree, but about being able to know the tools to do the job. I think community colleges do that really well.”
Jared has seen firsthand how community colleges connect students with local businesses, giving them opportunities for in-demand jobs. His course credits transferred easily to a four-year university, and he was able to build his career while he was at SCC.
“It provided a great foundation and a great pivot point for me to decide what I was going to do, what I was interested in,” Jared reflected. “To have control over my career path over the long haul was a definite advantage for me, starting at a community college.”