DoDEA student takes career readiness to a whole new level


by Ken Robinson
Kaiserslautern High School Technology Sponsor

Matthew Mercen showing the IT certifications he has passed.

Kaiserslautern High School graduate obtains impressive IT industry certification during his summer break. While most graduates try to relax over the summer, travel a bit and enjoy what could be their last European experience, Matthew Mercen spent the past six weeks hunched over a computer in hopes to become a certified CompTIA Secure Infrastructure Specialist (CSIS).

The CSIS is not just any certification. To obtain this highly respected title, one must obtain three very difficult IT certifications (CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, and the CompTIA Security+ certifications). Each of these industry certifications, in their own right, are highly sought after and signify competency in a particular field of Information Technology.
Matthew Mercen earned his CompTIA A+ certification while still a senior at KHS. Both Matthew and two other KHS students (Junior Ethan Cooper and Sophomore Stephen Moore) received their A+ certifications as part of their involvement in the DoDEA Computer Service and Support course (A+ certification). Additional certification preparatory classes, to include both CompTIA Network+ and Linux (LPIC-1), were held after school as part of the KHS IT certification program.
Field professionals from the community, such as AFCEA mentors, helped co-teach these intensive 8-week preparatory sessions. Eighty percent of all students who elected to take their respective exams obtained their certification. Exams such as the rigorous CompTIA A+ and Linux (LPIC-1) required passing of two tests each. Sophomore Ian Moore passed his second Linux exam, also during the summer, making him the school’s first Linux certified administrator.
IT certifications have become a necessity in many industries. In fact, all military members, civilians and contractors who currently work on DoD networks are required to obtain their CompTIA Security+ certification. IT certifications are so respected that, in many cases, supersede college degrees for specific IT professions. Career ready in the IT industry truly does mean certification ready.
Matt Mercen is one of only a few high school students who fully understands the value of IT certifications and how their acquisition can play a pivotal role in his career. By obtaining all three CompTIA certifications, and of course his newly acquired stackable CompTIA Secure Infrastructure Specialist (CSIS) certification, Matthew is now extremely marketable and can comfortably begin to search for employment in whichever market he so chooses.
For more information about the KHS IT Certification Program, please contact Ken Robinson at ken.robinson@dodea.edu.