When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Lemonade

OCC’s short-term training program creates lifeline for mom of three

After graduating high school, Alexzandrea Israel earned professional certification, began work as a Certified Nursing Aide and advanced to a Patient Care Technician role. After four years of caring for others, Israel was told she needed to stop working to take care of her own immediate health challenges.  

Alexandria Israel

A mother of three children, Israel required multiple surgeries as she labored to maintain things at home. As her health situation declined, her personal situation also took a significant downturn: her marriage was ending, and she began the painful process of divorce. She had to figure out a way to support her family, and quickly.  

Israel had an interest in the information technology field and started to do her research. She looked at several boot-camp programs and even OCC’s apprenticeship program. She found most of the programs were either very expensive and out of reach or required more time than she had available. Eventually, she found OCC’s new short-term Computer Security Technician program through the College’s Economic & Workforce Development department. When she learned that she had the opportunity to have the training paid for, she jumped on the chance. 

“This program has been a lifeline for me,” said Israel.  

The Computer Security Technician training proved to be the starting point on a new path for her, and her family. Once she completed the 8-week training program at the College’s Auburn Hills campus, her goal is to pursue a job as an IT technician or work at a helpdesk.  

“I plan to use that role as a stepping-stone and possibly work in cybersecurity at some point.” 

She realizes that more training may be needed for higher-level roles along the way. Once she gains more experience, she plans to pursue a degree or additional training.  

While Israel was handed the sour reality of unexpected health and personal challenges, she remained motivated to find a new job and new career.  

“Alexzandrea is determined to get her professional life back on track,” said program coordinator, Jessica Knapik.  

Israel hopes to embrace her healthcare background with her new IT skills. She shares the technological side of healthcare is very intriguing and understands that hospitals need to transition to new and different technologies to keep up. She likes the idea of having to learn a new system and the anticipation of a sweet future.  

“With Alexzandrea’s past experiences in healthcare, she has a huge advantage when she completes this program and begins looking for a job. She already has a firm understanding of industry culture and how the environment works,” added Knapik.  

OCC's short-term Computer Security Technician training program is funded in partnership by Oakland County MichiganWorks! and the Workforce Intelligence Network. The program features CompTIA course content, including A+, Network+ and Security+. According to Knapik, because IT is a very customer-oriented field, soft skills classes including customer service and NC3 Mike Rowe Work Ethic are also incorporated.  

Jobs in the IT industry are in high demand. Starting pay typically begins at $20 per hour. Through OCC’s program, students have the opportunity to interact with local employers. Eligible participants may qualify for funding through its partner agencies. 

Start your someday now!  Contact program coordinator, Jessica Knapik at jaknapik@oaklandcc.edu or (248) 232-4527 for details.  

About OCC   

Offering nearly 100 degrees and certificates, OCC is Michigan’s largest multi-campus community college and one of the top transfer institutions in the state. The College provides academic, career training and enriching experiences, designed to empower students to reach their potential and enhance our community. More than 1 million students have enrolled in the College since it opened in 1965. A seven-person Board of Trustees governs OCC. Board members are elected on a non-partisan, at-large basis, serve as volunteers and are not paid. Mission statement: OCC is committed to empowering our students to succeed and advancing our community. Learn more at oaklandcc.edu.  


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