Skill Up I.T. Program Celebrates College Hill Courts Graduates

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – “Yes, I can be successful. It’s not always about surviving,” says Skill Up I.T. graduate Victoria Gray.

Some residents of the College Hill Courts community of Chattanooga began a new chapter today.

“I can have an abundant life full of purpose and success,” says Gray.

It was graduation day for the students of Chattanooga State and the City of Chattanooga Office of Family Empowerment’s Skill Up I.T. Program. The program recruited students from this neighborhood, offering them an opportunity to earn a Google certification in I.T. studies. The program was literally brought to the door of the neighborhood, hoping to address the transportation and child care needs underserved communities typically face.

“Me and my son were homeless in the middle of the pandemic. Moved into College Hill Courts January 2021,” says Gray.

The program lasted nine weeks.

“One of my certificates is Python Programming. I did take that. It was very challenging,” says Gray.

It’s been so successful, with many of the students already finding livable-wage employment, that officials are offering another class in February and more on the calendar. The College Hill Courts Community has been marred by recent tragedy but one of the messages to graduates today was to step out of a survival mindset and into a survivor mindset.

“Before we even started, I believe a week or two before that, there was a tragic incident over at College Courts,” says Skill Up I.T. program and Chattanooga State Professor Asa Bush.

“About seven people were shot over there. That had an impact on the community. I’m kind of glad that the preparation for this, it wound up coming along at the same time as that so it was a positive thing that came to the community, that brought people together and let them know we don’t have to stay in these situations.”

As Chattanooga State and the City of Chattanooga grows this program, they are actively recruiting students and local future employers. Send an email to bo.drake@chattanoogastate.edu or call 423-697-2606 to learn more.

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