Craig Day, News On 6
TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma -- Students in one Green Country school are getting a great opportunity thanks to the Cherokee Nation.
They now have the chance to take classes that could lead to much sought after computer certifications and good jobs.
It's Cisco Network Academy and already the students are learning a lot.
"Learn how to use programs. Learn how to program your computer," Terran Pettit, a high school senior, said. "Learn how to transfer data to different stuff."
"IP addresses and protocols," Samantha Peters, a high school senior, said.
The program, four courses over one academic year, will prepare students for in-demand IT and network-related computer fields.
"If you're wanting to go into computer networking or something, it's something you would want to go into," Peters said.
The Cherokee Nation started the program after buying two information technology companies.
"Part of our strategy is to develop a diversification effort that will take us out of gaming and into more mainstream industries and IT is going to be at the hub of that strategy," David Stewart said.
With more diversification and IT company acquisitions likely in the future, the Cherokee Nation realized it would need a computer-skilled workforce down the road.
These students could be that workforce.
"We're starting very early with our kids and getting them certified and getting them prepared so when this entire IT business comes back home, we will have the people to insert and provide them careers and jobs and so on," Stewart said.
The training will prepare the students to take Cisco certification exams right out of high school.
"Feel pretty lucky that this school offers this class, maybe all schools should," Pettit said.
The Cherokee Nation hopes these students are just the beginning, getting a better shot at good jobs and better futures, without having to leave Oklahoma.
"If you like it, it will help you along the way," Peters said.
Cherokee Nation Technology Solutions provides the equipment and textbooks for the program. Sequoyah High School provides the instructor and the classroom.