Wednesday, 29 May 2019 13:20

Information Technology graduate aims to fight cyber crime

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Richmond Community College Information Technology graduate William “Hunter” O’Neal hopes to one day work for the federal government fighting cyber crimes. Richmond Community College Information Technology graduate William “Hunter” O’Neal hopes to one day work for the federal government fighting cyber crimes. RichmondCC

HAMLET — Richmond Community College Information Technology graduate William “Hunter” O’Neal knows that if he wants to be successful in an IT career he must continue to educate himself in this ever-changing industry.

O'Neal completed the Information Technology Support associate degree this spring at RichmondCC, plus he became CompTIA A+ certified. The CompTIA A+ certification indicates a proficiency with computer hardware and operating systems. In other words, being CompTIA A+ certified means O’Neal understands the cutting-edge fundamentals of computers and can troubleshoot a wide range of devices, from tablets to smart phones. It is a powerful and globally respected credential that employers trust and look for on resumes.

“My plan at the moment is to earn another CompTIA certification this summer in either Security+ or Network+,” said O’Neal of Rockingham. “This fall semester, I will be finishing up a degree in cyber security from RichmondCC, so I’ll have that to add on to my resume.”

O’Neal, a 2016 Richmond Senior High School graduate, currently works at Computer Zone in Rockingham.

“I am responsible for answering and documenting phone calls, logging into computers of the clients we support and helping them through the problems they may have, whether it is mapping a printer or the manager needs me to block Facebook. It is always something different every day,” O’Neal said, adding that he also helps with computers that need to be fixed or serviced. 

O’Neal got the job at Computer Zone after having taken just a few classes at RichmondCC and gaining an entry level IT certification.

“I wanted to get into IT before I graduated high school because it is a fast-growing industry with a strong potential for advancement to an amazing career,” O’Neal said. “I chose to go with IT Support first because a counselor at RichmondCC said that credential was the easiest way to get into the industry.” 

Once O’Neal has the Cyber Security degree under his belt, plus several more industry-recognized certifications, his goal is to land a federal job fighting cyber crime.

“Because of my job, I have witnessed cyber security attacks first-hand. I know how destructive they can be to a company,” he said. “I want to protect people and their sensitive data from evil people.”

O’Neal knows that he is entering a career field where he can’t be passive and that he’ll always be studying and working to gain more knowledge. 

“We have to keep up with new threats and new technology in the industry in order to not fall behind,” he said. “Once I got the CompTIA A+ this semester, however, it gave me confidence that I can be successful in this field and that through hard work I will eventually be where I want to be.”

Lance Barber, Information Technology program coordinator at RichmondCC, has confidence that O’Neal will be a rising star in the IT career field.

“Hunter has always been an excellent student, not only having technical skills, but also soft skills local employers repeatedly tell us are so important,” Barber said. “Recently, we invited students to attend one of our college advisory committee meetings to share their college experiences. Hunter stole the show not only with his college and work experience, but also with his ability to convey himself.” 

Barber said for instructors it is a good feeling to have students who are interested and enthusiastic.  

“That is exactly what you have to be to make it in IT,” Barber said. “Hunter is well on his way to a successful career, and these industry-recognized certifications from CompTIA and other organizations will only help.” 

Information Technology at RichmondCC

RichmondCC offers a variety of degrees, diplomas and certificates in the IT field, from tech support to network management to cyber security. The program also incorporates industry-recognized certification exams like the CompTIA so students will have the credentials that employers are looking for. 

This fall, RichmondCC is offering two courses that help prepare for CompTIA A+ certification. Both can be completed in one semester, and there are day, evening, and online options available. The College also offers students CompTIA certification testing on campus, as well as discounted certification exam vouchers.

IT graduates can find employment in healthcare, state and federal government, education or the private sector — anywhere that uses computers and a network system.

RichmondCC is now registering students for the fall semester. To complete a free application online, visit www.richmondcc.edu/admissions or call 910-410-1730 to talk to a counselor.