WINTERVILLE—The Cannon Foundation awarded Pitt Community College a $62,675-grant this summer to upgrade the remotely-accessible Cisco networking equipment utilized by its IT: Network Management and IT: Cyber Security degree programs.
According to PCC Business Dean Katherine Clyde, the funding will go toward the purchase of new equipment Pitt will use to train students remotely for jobs requiring Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification.
“One of the really nice things about this equipment is that we can do this training remotely, so students and faculty can log in from home or another off-site location,” Clyde said. “I think this is really important in the current COVID-19 environment we are living and working in.
“We are really thankful for the Cannon Foundation and their willingness to fund this grant to help us better prepare our students for today’s workforce.”
Shelley Allen, director of PCC’s Cisco Local Academy, says CCNA is the industry-standard, entry-level certification for installing, supporting and troubleshooting wired and/or wireless networks. The certification, she said, is a “springboard credential” that helps students secure well-paying jobs within Pitt County and the surrounding area.
“Pitt Community College and area businesses recognized the need for the remote hands-on lab environment last year, prior to the pandemic,” Allen said. “Now, with COVID-19 causing restricted access to some of the college’s buildings and classes, the remote lab has (reached) critical importance. Thankfully, the Cannon Foundation has … provided financial support to upgrade the equipment [needed] to meet the new CCNA curriculum requirements.”
PCC Director of Grants Management Julie Crippen says CCNA certification can lead to jobs in places like Fayetteville, Raleigh and Greenville that feature salaries above the average annual salary for the Pitt County region and well above poverty-level. Graduates of Pitt’s networking program, she said, have the opportunity to make $20-$50 per hour once they attain CCNA certification.
“The need to provide training for students to secure well-paying jobs could not be more imminent in this area, as 30 percent of Pitt County children under the age of 18 are currently living in poverty,” Crippen said. “The upgrade of our remotely-accessible Cisco equipment will provide students potentially life-changing opportunities to train and become qualified for jobs that require Cisco certification.”
Established in 1943 by Charles A. Cannon, former chairman and president of North Carolina’s Cannon Mills Company, The Cannon Foundation funds capital and equipment projects for organizations across Cannon’s home state, primarily in the areas of higher education, community, human services and health care. In the last fiscal year, the organization awarded 169 grants totaling nearly $10.7 million.