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(ABILENE, Texas) – Mandy Jenkins, a mother of five, knows that her options will be open when she completes the Computer Networking and Systems Administration program at Texas State Technical College next year.

“There is so much you learn in the program,” she said. “I know that I will have a lot of options. But until then, I want to learn as much as I can.”

Jenkins, of Merkel, is pursuing an associate degree and said it took her some time to begin college. After earning a GED, Jenkins looked at the TSTC program but waited until her 40s to get started.

“I decided I wanted to learn something that I did not know anything about,” she said. “I had previously worked in the medical field but decided I wanted to do this.”

Jenkins said that led her to TSTC’s Abilene campus. With the program being available online, she said it has helped her juggle classwork and home life.

“Being at home, there was a lot less stress. It seemed things were going easier for me,” she said. “I did have that first-semester stress like a lot of people, but everyone was there to help me.”

That included her fiance, Cary, and children.

“They have been supporting me throughout school. I could not have asked for anything else from them,” she said.

One of her biggest worries prior to starting the program was her lack of computer networking experience.

“When I started classes, I assumed that my classmates would have known a lot about computers. Once we got started talking, I realized they were like me and did not have that much experience,” she said. “I felt better knowing we were all in the same situation.”

Throughout the program, Jenkins said she has learned things that many people take for granted.

“When we were learning how to design a webpage, I had no idea all of the details that went into it,” she said. “What I have been learning is really cool. I never thought I would be the one behind the screen doing these kinds of things.”

 For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

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