Student Spotlight: Michael Wagner
Major: Computer and Intformation
After graduating from high school, Michael Wagner moved into his own apartment to gain independence.
In his 20s, Wagner married, had three daughters and at 29 purchased a home for his family. But he knew that wasn’t enough.
“If I wanted to continue my success, I had to push harder,” he said. “My decision to enroll in college courses more than a decade past high school was a difficult one to make.”
Ever since learning the fundamentals of MS-DOS in high school, Wagner had been adaptively learning within Microsoft’s Operating System structure. He visited several technical schools but ultimately decided upon College of DuPage, knowing that his educational credits could transfer to an accredited four-year university in the future.
Wagner started his academic career focusing on education that would lead to industry certifications within IT.
“COD enabled me to become CompTIA certified for A+ and Network+, and I earned the Cisco CCNA Routing and Switching certification,” he said. “I have earned five College certificates within the Computer and Information Technology program and, to wrap it all up, I’ve now earned my associate’s degree.”
In 2016, Wagner was named one of the College’s Outstanding Graduate finalists. He then interviewed for many jobs before accepting one as a network engineer with BCDVideo, an industry leader in purpose-built video surveillance. His job took him around the country to such places as Silicon Valley, Scottsdale, Gulfport and Las Vegas, and he even traveled to Central America to Panama City for IT work on the Panama Canal.
“My role as a network engineer has provided me the opportunity to implement, design and install a wide variety of IT-related systems,” he said. “I have applied many of the things I learned throughout my education and so much more.”
He currently is employed by Republic Bank of Chicago as a network systems engineer, which allows him to focus on security infrastructure. His new role also provides him with a way to give back to the community, including COD.
“I attended two of the COD-hosted events as a speaker targeting high school students with disabilities. I have been a guest speaker within the CIT Capstone class, engaging with current students about what they can expect entering the IT field post-graduation. Lastly, I spoke at various career day events highlighting what my current role as a network systems engineer entails,” he said. “I also was part of my employer’s summer internship program and managed a COD graduate, Austyn Gerzevske. I enjoyed mentoring a fellow alum and guiding him into his journey within IT. I chose Austyn out of a large group of candidates based on his education, certifications and recommendation. I knew I couldn’t go wrong with my selection given Austyn completed the same CIT programs as I did.”
Wagner continues to pursue his education through the CIT program, earning his CCNA Wireless certification, and he is considering a second degree in Cyber Security. He used the COD Pearson Vue testing center to recertify for his accredited IT Vendor certifications.
“I have no regrets, only positive affirmation of my decision to educate myself through College of DuPage, which has more than satisfied my educational and personal goals,” he said. “For all the people in my life who doubted me, thank you. Because when times became rough for me mentally, physically and emotionally, I used your comments as fuel to continue to push forward. I proved that you can be more than what you’ve become and that it’s never too late to succeed.
“My advice to future students would be to never let your situation define you – rather, define your situation. Personally, I can attest to this motto. It is no easy task being a full-time worker, student, parent of three small children and husband. However, with dedication, commitment and sacrifice, you can achieve your goals.”
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2019 College of DuPage