NHTI Hosts Network Academy Conference

Grads’ Presentations Highlight Proceedings
Branamir Karajcic, Dan Moretto, Jackie Johnson, and Kahekashan Shaik

CONCORD — On Thursday and Friday, June 26 and 27, NHTI, Concord’s Community College hosted a Cisco Academy Conference for high schools and colleges throughout the northeast that offer Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) training. 

The conference also marked the 15th anniversary of NHTI’s own CCNA Academy.  NHTI offered its first Cisco networking class in 1999, when it had just one faculty member teaching around 50 students.  The school became a fully certified Cisco Academy in 2001, and today it has four full-time faculty teaching networking to 150 students.

Thursday evening, four recent graduates of NHTI’s Academy (pictured above) spoke in videotaped presentations about the transformative impact that Cisco certification has had upon their lives.

Dan Moretto (second from left) was living at home when his father pushed him toward getting some kind of technical training at NHTI.  Though he was originally drawn toward art and game design, he decided there was more security in networking.  “A lot my friends didn’t go to college,” says Dan.  “Some of them went through IT programs, but they’re still working at McDonald’s.”  Meanwhile Dan, who got his CCNA in 2011, has his own apartment, his own car, and has paid off his student loans.

Branamir Karajcic (far left) moved to the U.S. from Serbia in 2002.  He earned an Associate Degree in Computer Engineering in 2008, but found that jobs were still scarce.  But after getting his CCNA in 2013, “I’ve gone from looking for a job to picking a job.”  On a recent trip to Serbia, he discovered that a CCNA is a ticket to employment even there, despite the 30% unemployment rate.

Jackie Johnson (second from right) was working as a contract employee for a New Hampshire engineering firm.  She had no benefits, and no job security.  Then she earned an Associate Degree and a CCNA in 2010.  “The CCNA opened doors that were otherwise closed,” she says.  “Now I have a professional position with health care, 401K, you name it … and a much improved quality of life.”

It took Kahekashan Shaik (far right) eight years to get her CCNA certification due to health issues, raising three children, and the fact that she and her husband had to share a single car between them.  But it was clearly worth it.  “I had a full time job even before I graduated,” she says, “and we were able to get a second car.  The professors are excellent, very, very helpful.  Because of them I was able to achieve my dreams.”

As moderator David Kotfila of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute remarked after the presentations, “This is why we teach.”

NHTI, Concord’s Community College, is a fully accredited, public community college serving students, businesses and the community by providing excellent academic, technical and professional education.  NHTI offers over 65 academic programs to more than 4,500 students.  NHTI is a member of the Community College System of New Hampshire.