Sixteen-hundred Makes Us Number One

Cisco Event
It's a big crowd – but actually just a fraction of the students enrolled in the college's Networking programs.

We’re Number One … out of a couple thousand.

In a ceremony in the Student Life Centre on April 4, St. Clair was recognized as having the largest enrolment of Computer Systems Technology students of all postsecondary schools in North America which have partnerships with the Cisco Networking Academy.

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Left, President Rola Dagher of Cisco Canada; right, St. Clair President Patti France.

Cisco Systems is a private-sector company, headquartered in California’s high-tech-laden Silicon Valley, founded in 1984. It pioneered the concept of networked (connected) computers, and is still a global leader in networking technology (hardware, software and methodology).

For over 20 years, the company has had an educational component – developing partnerships with secondary and postsecondary schools to provide them with hardware, software, curriculum advice, mentorship, and the accreditation of graduates as “Cisco Networking Academy Certified”.

In those two decades, over nine million computer technicians in 180 countries have obtained the “Cisco Certified” distinction in such fields as Cybersecurity, Programming, Networking, The Internet Of Things, Entrepreneurship, Business, and The Digital Library.

In Ontario, in 2018, over 14,000 students at 80 schools were taught in Cisco partnerships. Canada-wide, there were almost 27,000 students at 215 schools. Across North America, over 200,000 students at approximately 2,000 schools benefited from the offerings of the Cisco Academy.

And during the 2018-19 academic year, St. Clair had the highest enrolment of all of those Cisco-partnered, Computer Networking programs, with 1,680 students.

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Networking program grad Zaenab Allawi, flanked by Presidents France and Dagher, spoke at the event to compliment both the college and the company.

The college has been partnered with the Cisco Networking Academy since 2005.

Accepting the company’s recognition during the April 4th ceremony, St. Clair President Patti France thanked Cisco “for everything you’ve done for the college, our students and our graduates during our long-standing partnership – for the hardware, software, and curriculum content advice.

“The very fact that we have partnered with you explains, to a great degree, why prospective students find these programs so attractive; and why our grads have gone on to such fulfilling careers. From that perspective, I suppose we should really be giving you an award too, because our enrolment achievement is also a recognition of the importance of Cisco accreditation.”

France also observed that, “None of this astounding enrolment growth would be possible, of course, without the efforts of the Chair of the Zekelman School of Business and Information Technology, James Marsh; the Coordinator of the Networking programs, Ruth Susannah; all of the exceptional faculty members in the programs; the dedicated support staff, including those of the I.T. Department who maintain the hardware and software; the crew in Facilities Management for creating the new classrooms and labs to accommodate this influx of students; the Scheduling Department for handling the complexities of time-tables and room assignments; and the Registrar’s Office, Financial Aid and Student Services for the multitude of services they provide. And, again, given the many global scholars who have spurred this enrolment growth, a great deal of credit must also be extended to everyone in our International Education Office. Oh, and thanks, also, to the students themselves, for choosing to pursue their educations – and achieve their career aspirations – at St. Clair.”

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Cisco Canada President Rola Dagher meeting with St. Clair Networking students.

Expanding on the last point, the college’s President said, “The record-setting increase in enrolment in these programs during the past few years has arisen from the huge influx of international students who have found their way to St. Clair. While many of them, we hope, will eventually become new Canadians and contribute to our nation’s development; others will return to their home-lands, with their newly acquired knowledge and skills, to build, enhance and revolutionize the infrastructure and economies of countries around the globe.

“In addition to welcoming a large percentage of our incoming international scholars,” France added, “our Networking programs are remarkable for the substantial percentage of women who make up the enrolment. Cisco recognized us for that a few years ago, when females represented over twenty percent of program enrolment – almost double the national average.”

Cisco Event
Cisco Canada President Rola Dagher meeting with St. Clair Networking students.

Cisco Canada President Rola Dagher called St. Clair “a hidden gem” among some of the larger colleges and universities served by her company’s academic wing. The event’s enrolment announcement, she said, means the college is “Number One in making a difference in … the economy, locally and throughout Canada ... And we are committed to continue to empower you to make a better Canada everyday.”

Dagher added, “Over the years, Cisco has been making strong investments in projects and programs that help accelerate Canada’s digitization and shape a modern economy that is skilled, innovative, creative, inclusive and capable of adapting quickly as new opportunities emerge. We are proud of the partnership we’ve developed with St. Clair College to empower young Canadians with technology, and we are excited to build on the local success here in the years to come.”

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Among those congratulating the college were, left to right, Essex County Deputy Warden Nelson Santos, Windsor Councillor Irek Kusmierczyk, and AlphaKor President Frank Abbruzzese.

With the help of the Cisco Network Academy, St. Clair has become a leader in North America in educating IT professionals, said Ruth Susannah, Coordinator of the Computer Networking programs. “We are becoming a technology hub, with Windsor and Detroit partnering on many projects. Most recently, the college has been invited to be part of a historic group developing a plan for seamless integrated mobility between Michigan and Ontario. The tech sector is also beginning to grow with new companies moving into the city. We have many of our grads working in critical IT roles in various industries across both sides of the border. We could not have accomplished all of this without industry partners like Cisco, who have donated equipment to our program and provided valuable industry-based curriculum for our students.”