A fast-track technology program in Springfield is drawing a diverse group of students who are getting a second chance to pursue the career of their dreams.
Back in March, we told you about the program announcement, and, on Friday, we spoke to students who are enrolling and after being registered for a scholarship to help support them.
Clem Robinson is redefining what it looks like to go back to school.
“[It’s] hands-on, not a bunch of books,” he said.
The 59-year-old pastor will be learning about technology as part of a boot camp in Springfield.
“I wouldn’t have had this opportunity if not for this program,” he explained.
And he’s coming in with a clean slate.
“I can turn the computer on, I can get on the internet. That’s as far as we can go,” he admitted with a chuckle.
He will be studying with other students, like 24-year-old Min Thwin, who left college at the start of the pandemic.
“I want to be an IT specialist,” Thwin said. “[This is a] once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me.”
There’s also 18-year-old Tyler Surowic. “I’m really big into it and cybersecurity,” Surowic said.
The program is aiming to enroll 15 students in the school located at 2049 N. Pearl St., Jacksonville, FL 32206 by the first day of class on June 1.
Once students are done with the 12-week technology boot camp, they’ll get their security surveillance certification and their fiber optic certification.
The goal is to bring more high-paying jobs to the Springfield neighborhod.
“For them, it’s gonna be an opportunity to learn a skill. For us, it’s gonna be an opportunity to recruit a skill,” said Tim Tickle, the general manager for the W.W. Gaye Fire Protection company, which donated $10,000 in scholarship money.
Tuition for each student is $10,000. But it’ll be divided into $2,500 each for the four students currently enrolled.
Jeff Sims with the Sims Consultant Group, which founded this program, says he’s working with private donors and other agencies to fund more.
“We’re working with JSO, which has been very helpful, [we] thank JSO for their help. We’re working with some of the city nonprofit organizations to work with us as well so we thank the city as well,” Sims said. “Just trying to do a collaborative effort because this is for everyone.”
For Robinson, it’s an investment he hopes to pay forward.
“I have young people in my congregation who don’t want to go to college, so this pastor, I can encourage them to come to school here,” Robinson pointed out.
“To be able to tell someone that I mastered this at my age,” he said of what he’s hoping to accomplish at the end of the course. “My philosophy is where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
You can find out more about the Sims Consultant Group here: http://simsconsultinggroup.info/.