Guest blog by Ntombozuko (Soso) Luningo
Soso Luningo is a trainer with the ICT Academy at CIDA City Campus in Johannesburg, South Africa, where she trains students on the Cisco Networking Academy curriculum
This is my first blog ever, long overdue since I am an expressive person. Everywhere I have ever spoken, the question has been: “Why don’t you have a blog?” Well there you go folks. I finally decided to write this blog because I am grateful to the Cisco Networking Academy for affording me the opportunity to have influence and make great contributions to the future of previously disadvantaged South African youth.
I have been involved in the Cisco Networking Academy programme from the “baby” (student) days of my career and I am now raising about 50 babies every single year as an instructor at the ICT Academy at CIDA City Campus in Johannesburg, South Africa.
I myself was a NetAcad student at CIDA City Campus, and I feel the program is the best way anyone can learn, and I mean absolutely anyone. The flexibility of the Networking Academy curriculum allowed the faster learner I was to push my abilities to the furthest extent without frustrating the rest of the class. Admittedly, I was also one of the naughty students; I got bored easily, but the curriculum kept me in check. There was always something new to challenge me every step of the way. It became my teacher, my research (trial and error) point, and guide for my future career.
After I completed the program, I was a networking administrator for two years. I worked the dreaded night shift maintaining and monitoring a well built network, and the naughty student started bubbling to the surface. I became a “toddler” in networking. I started messing with a live network and challenging other technicians to figure out solutions to the problems I created until the boss suggested I start training them. I held training sessions for IT staff on the only technology I am passionate about: Cisco networks. The passion started when I was a Network+ certification student; I always wanted to know what is “beyond the scope of N+,” as my instructor would say.
That is when I received a call from the CIDA ICT Academy to come work as a trainer. A lot had changed with Cisco Networking Academy by then, which is one of the pros because technology never stands still. I had to face a few other changes: the environment, different communication styles, and ironically a lot of naughty “mini-me’s.”
I took a step up in the programme as far as roles are concerned; I became a teenager (a student instructor), which meant learning to “baby-sit.” I chose this path not only to mentor young people, but to also embrace the student creativity and inquisition our education system chose to ignore. What keeps me in teaching is the success of my students in the industry. The reason I haven’t gone back to the industry is, when I look at the statistics of unemployment in South Africa I simply tell myself “I am not done.”
After a few years of being a young adult, I had to rapidly become an adult (instructor trainer) and before I knew it, I was being trusted to support and look after other academies. My advancement proves that the Cisco Networking Academy was made for utterly anyone: young, old, fast, slow, theoretical thinker, practical thinker, man, woman. Go on, it is waiting for you.
Read Soso’s story and see photos from the CIDA ICT Academy on csr.cisco.com.