SVCC Partners with Microsoft to Illuminate Technology Career Pathways for Women

Pictured are the first group of students in Microsoft's Women in Datacenters Pathway Program held at SVCC's Lake Country Advanced Knowledge Center in South Hill:  (left to right) Madelyn Gray Williams, Brunswick Academy; Esther Lacks, Homeschool; Zahnaysha Cleaton, Brunswick High School; Lillian Loftis, Bluestone High School; Tykhori Cabiness, Brunswick High School; Sydney Fleming, Park View High School; Jordan Smith, Brunswick High School; Roshan Wall, Brunswick High School; Alora Decorte, Homeschool.

Southside Virginia Community College has partnered with Microsoft to launch a pilot program for young women titled Women in Datacenters Pathway Program that is based at the Lake Country Advanced Knowledge Center in South Hill, Virginia.  This 14-week program is available to 11th and 12th grade female high school students in the Southside Virginia region.

The Women in Datacenters Pathway Program equips students with IT fundamentals through trainer-led and autonomous learning content with the aim of achieving an internationally recognized certification in CompTIA ITF+.  Program trainers promote professional development, including: networking, interview skills, using LinkedIn tools and building resilience.  Upon completion of the program, students will also receive college credit. The goal of the program is to create interest in technology careers by showing datacenter career pathways to female students who may not have known such opportunities were available.

Microsoft’s research shows that girls feel empowered to engage in STEM activities when exposed to female role models. Adding this component to the program was important. The pilot program pairs students with female professionals, called champions, from the Microsoft datacenter in Boydton, Virginia. These female champions meet with the girls monthly and work on assigned topics together. The champions focus on generating excitement, participating in interactive learning, and encouraging the girls in their studies. A similar pilot is running at Collinstown Park Community College in Dublin, Ireland and plans are underway to connect both groups of students during the semester to provide an international connection.

"We (SVCC) are very excited to partner with Microsoft on this pilot program because of the impact it can have on the young women who participate," said Dr. Chad Patton, Dean of Career and Occupational Technology, Southside Virginia Community College.  "A program like this can start these students on a path to success, not just in Information Technology (IT), but in overall professional development. 

The collaboration is part of the Microsoft Datacenter Academy program, a workforce development program sponsored by the Microsoft Datacenter Community Development team. The program helps build digital skills and provides career pathways in the growing information technology sector for residents of communities in which Microsoft operates datacenters.

“Ongoing education and commitment to skills development is a mission throughout Microsoft,” said Bob Reitinger, Workforce Development Manager at Microsoft. “We must ensure that economic opportunity is inclusive for every resident and organization in our datacenter communities,” he commented.

Anyone interested in the program is asked to please contact Crystal Pendergrass at crystal.pendergrass@southside.edu.