ROSENBERG, Texas - Renee Blackshear’s first experience with computers and technology was in junior high school, writing a program that made a virtual robot do jumping jacks on the screen.
By the time she was using a computer to design a yearbook in high school, she was hooked on all the things she could do with technology.
She enrolled at Texas State Technical College and earned her degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration, which she now teaches at the college.
“I was like, this is where I need to be because this is taking my interest and love of technology and making it work, building networks and allowing people to do things,” Blackshear said. “I just fell in love.”
After also earning a degree in what is now TSTC’s Web Design and Development program, Blackshear went on to pursue a bachelor’s degree at Texas A&M University in networking and security. She is currently working on her master’s degree.
“I can’t stop learning,” Blackshear said. “I just love everything about computers.”
When she was a student at TSTC, her instructors shaped the instructor she wanted to become.
“I want to be that instructor students are comfortable talking to,” Blackshear said. “I want to be empathetic to my students. I want to work with them. My job is to help them be successful. If I need to explain it with Legos, I’ll explain it with Legos. Whatever it takes.”
Blackshear can also leverage her experience working in the industry to give students real-life examples of situations -- including being a woman in a male-dominated field.
“There’s still gender bias -- you have to bring in your self-confidence and assurance,” she said. “I don’t care that I’m a woman. I’ll climb up the ladder and start running network drops. I’ll scrape my arms on those server rails too. I’ll crawl around on the floor. I can do it just as good as you
can. Watch me. You have to have that positive attitude and just keep on rolling. Don’t let anyone get you down.”
Overall, computer networking can be for everyone, Blackshear said. It is a field that is all about building and improving relationships between machines and applications.
“Stick with it, no matter what,” she said about advice she would give prospective students seeking to enter the industry. “Just keep going. Learn every day.”
TSTC offers online training to earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration and an advanced technical certificate in Cloud Computing. The program is part of TSTC’s Performance-Based Education, offering students a self-directed and flexible way to fast-track their training.
In Texas, computer network support specialists can earn an average annual salary of $70,950, according to onetonline.org, which projects such positions to grow in the state by 17% through 2028.
During the month of March, TSTC is honoring women in history and on its campuses who work to make strides in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields every day.
Learn more about TSTC at tstc.edu.
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