By Joey Gomez
MCALLEN, Texas – South Texas College Bachelor of Applied Technology (BAT) in Computer and Information Technology program (CIT) recently celebrated its first cohort of dual credit high school students who have received industry-recognized credentials created by Google.
STC’s first began offering dual credit students the opportunity to earn the professional-level certificate through a unique pilot program in fall 2023.
The idea, according to CIT faculty, was creating the program to enable high school students who are already earning their associate degrees in computer science from STC to have the opportunity to earn a Google IT Automation with Python Professional Certificate while taking their Programming Fundamentals III dual credit course.
Faculty with STC’s CIT program say they made it a priority to embed Python into high schools due to its ease of use and its many real-world applications. As a programming language, Python is used in some of the largest companies in the world including Google, Facebook and YouTube.
“Our goal is to prepare the students to get a job either as a computer programmer or in the technology field so when students receive this credential, they know they are getting one of the most advanced certification programs Google offers,” said Computer and Information Technology Instructor Nicholas Hinojosa. “So, for these students, to be able to earn this certification at such a young age, I believe it is a testament to our Computer Science associate degree program, which provided the foundation that they needed to be successful and to be able to take on this challenge.”
Twelve out of 13 dual credit students at Thelma R. Salinas STEM Early College High School in La Joya, and all five students from Daniel P. King Pharr-San Juan-Alamo (PSJA) College and University Center in San Juan received the industry credential.
“It was a very intense experience, but we found a way for our students to succeed. In the end, the kids loved it because they saw the reward – an industry certification even before they even graduate high school,” said Guillermo Flores, dual enrollment and computer science instructor at La Joya ISD. “I consider STC’s Computer Science department to be the bridge between students and industry. It’s a big bridge. When this is coupled with earning an associate degree from the college, there is no limit to what they can do once they graduate.”
Since fall 2020, when STC first began offering the specialized certificate to students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technologies, the CIT has counted 895 certificate completions by students.
With bachelor-level students and dual credit students earning the Google IT certificate, CIT faculty say the most logical choice was to also extend the certificates to students earning associate degrees, which essentially provides all students in the program to earn the credential. The certificate will be available for students taking the program’s Programming Fundamentals III course 2436.
“We are extending this to everybody. We are seeing just how successful this has been at the high school level and bachelor’s level that we have decided to offer it to our traditional students that are also completing their associate degree,” Hinojosa said. “We anticipate that many of those students will finish and benefit from the certificate and everything that it offers.”
An initiative of Grow with Google, the certificate program is offered in partnership with Coursera, a leading online platform for higher education focused on mastering fundamental skills in the IT workforce including troubleshooting, customer service, networking, operating systems and security.
Coursework often includes a combination of interactive learning strategies and assessments including video lectures, practice exercises and supplemental reading to support students’ information technology skills.
CIT currently has eight courses that enable students to earn a variety of important certifications from Google including the Google Automation with Python Professional Certificate, IT Support Professional Certificate, Data Analytics Professional Certificate, Cybersecurity Professional Certificate, Advanced Data Analytics Professional Certificate and Google UX Design Professional Certificate.
CIT also offers certificates from Amazon Web Services including an AWS Academy Machine Learning Foundations Certificate, Certified Cloud Practitioner Certificate and AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate Certification.
“We understand the fact that companies are looking at students who have both a degree and certification. The additional certification adds power to the degree,” said CIT Department Chair Saeed Molki. “When you combine both of them together the chances for employment for our students skyrockets.”
For more information about STC’s Computer Information Technology program visit bachelors.southtexascollege.edu/cit/.