The day he was released from active duty with the U.S. Army, Casey King enrolled in Fort Hays State University's Cisco Systems Networking Academy. By the next day, he was taking classes.
King, now an FHSU graduate, had just returned from his second deployment to Qatar, near Saudi Arabia, as an Army Reserve computer technician. He heard about Cisco from his fellow soldiers, who were Cisco Certified Network Associates.
Impressed with their level of knowledge, King was glad to find he could gain the knowledge necessary for certification through FHSU.
"Enrolling in the networking academy was and still is one of the smartest choices I made," said King.
The CCNA certification provides foundation knowledge in networking and creates the ability to design, configure and operate LAN and WAN services for small to moderate sized networks.
Despite King's busy schedule, which included a fiancée and two daughters, military obligations, and involvement with FHSU's Advanced Technology Student Organization as president, he was able to take full advantage of the physical and virtual course labs.
He was engaged in the hands-on practices of his profession by working with routers, switches and firewalls. King said he enjoyed being able to work with his classmates. The classes offered creative learning opportunities, such as one team setting up a network and another team trying to break the network.
"The tutorials, expertise of the instructor and true lab testing environment prepared me and others to walk out the door and feel confident establishing ourselves with a new company," said King.
King attributes his success to people he worked with in the program, including Dr. Mark Bannister, chair of the Department of Information Networking and Telecommunications, who conveyed the advantages the networking academy would give him in the corporate world.
He also said Kevin Shaffer, associate professor of information networking and telecommunications, had a great impact on him because he was "brilliant" and able to bring his knowledge to the level of the students so they could understand it.
Since graduating and becoming CCNA certified, King said his civilian and military career have advanced. He is now a second lieutenant in the Army Reserves and commander of a unit. He is also a network engineer with the Coleman Company Inc., where he is responsible for administrating servers and overseeing the open systems backup environment and disk management systems.
King is also pursuing a master's of business administration degree and has co-founded a Web-based business with his wife, who is a graphic artist. Visit their Web site at www.writersblockhome.com.
He strongly encourages involvement in the networking academy and advises anyone considering it to put in the time, money and effort it takes.
"It's an absolute must," said King. "The networking academy gave me the breadth and depth of knowledge I needed in order to get my foot in the door of a great company and dive into unfamiliar territory with the confidence that I will succeed."