Feature Video

Blind Networking Academy student finds success

Jacob Brink, a student at Van Buren Technology Center in Michigan, uses Networking Academy classes to help him prepare for college.

Jacob Brink loves technology. The 17-year-old high school senior takes as many tech classes as he can at Van Buren Technology Center, located in Lawrence Michigan, including several Cisco Networking Academy classes. "I love to tear things apart and put them back together," Jacob says.  "This year I'm doing the routing and switching Cisco Networking Academy curriculum."

Jacob considers himself like any other teenager, but there is one difference. He's blind. But Jacob doesn't let his disability slow him down. "He's an amazing kid," says his teacher Denis Huffman. "He does an amazing job of using any tool possible to get through what he needs to get done. "

"I want to inspire people to push the limits of what they may be able to do," Jacob says. "I want them to be able to say, ‘look this blind kid can cable up a complicated network of Cisco routers and he can program it to work properly, what can I do?'

See also: Networking Academy helps single mom start a new career

Jacob's story is an example of what's possible for future workers in Michigan and just one reason why Cisco and the state of Michigan are teaming up to bring one of Cisco's most important global programs to the United States. Cisco's Senior Vice President of the America's Alison Gleeson, just announced that Michigan will become the first state to join the State Digital Acceleration (SDA) program, a 3-year collaborative initiative to advance the state's agenda. "Education and Networking Academy is the cornerstone of SDA, and we plan to more than double the enrollment in the state, from 3,000 students today, to 8,000 by 2020," said Gleeson.

"After I graduate graduate high school, I plan to go on to college," Jacob says with confidence. "My dream job would potentially be a network administrator, working from home so I could work in pajamas if I wanted to."