Prince Frederick, MD- In a first-of-its-kind partnership, Idea Solutions, a locally owned and operated information technology systems and management firm, has funded scholarships to cover the cost of industry certification exams for students at the Career and Technology Academy (CTA). As a result of Idea Solutions’ sponsorship, two students in the CISCO Networking and Cyber Security program received the Advancement in Information Technology Award.

Dr. Daniel D. Curry, Superintendent, said, “Passing a certification exam is a major milestone for our CTA students. We are grateful to Idea Solutions for helping them reach their career goal.”

In recognition of their outstanding achievements and through the submission of an application, Calvert High School seniors Jacob King and Jeffrey Campos each received a $300 scholarship to cover the cost of the CISCO Certified Network Administrator (CCNA) certification exam. Idea Solutions owners Frank and Linda Smith, in addition to Chief Operating Officer Mark Smith, presented students with the awards at CTA on Monday, March 29, 2021.

Both students were excited to be named as recipients of this recognition.  Award winner Jeffrey Campos stated, “I want thank Idea Solutions for the scholarship.  I am now eligible to take my CCNA with no worries.  I also want to congratulate my classmate, Jacob.”   

CTA Cisco Networking and Cyber Security program instructor Donald Cherry stated “I really appreciate the opportunity that this scholarship will provide for these two young men. The ability to sit for an IT industry exam at this age is great advantage.”

The award program is the result of a partnership between CTA, Calvert County Public Schools, and Idea Solutions.  Mark Smith was able to tour CTA in October of 2019 during a Chamber of Commerce event.  After learning about the real-world training students receive while at CTA, he and CTA Principal Carrie Akins discussed forming a partnership. Since that time, in addition to establishing the Advancement in Information Technology Award program, Idea Solutions has become an important member of the Program Advisory Committee (PAC) for the CISCO Networking and Cyber Security program.  

Mark Smith shared, “We at Idea Solutions were motivated to do whatever we could to help assist in making CTA’s and the students’ vision a reality.”  He added that he hopes that the annual scholarship will provide funding assistance to students to help them in their journey toward an occupation in information technology.

“It is our goal at CTA to ensure our students have all of the tools needed to be successful in their chosen fields.  Whether students plan to enter the workforce directly or go on to further education after high school, I believe earning industry-recognized credentials is an important part of that preparation.  Unfortunately, while widely recognized and immediately useable, the CCNA exam is a costly credential for our students to obtain.  I have no doubt that this program will greatly benefit our students, and we are glad to have the opportunity to partner with our local businesses on such an important venture,” said Akins.

Following high school, Jacob plans to attend the College of Southern Maryland and major in IT or a related field.  Jeffrey Campos is still undecided about where he plans to attend post-secondary training but plans to pursue a career specifically in cyber security.

There are currently 26 CTE programs for students in Calvert County Public Schools.  All CTE programs have a PAC, and the support of new community partners is always welcome.  For more information on how to support one of the programs, community members may contact Akins.

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