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"A gold mine in the middle of nowhere"

For Bolton, NC native Tanty Freeman II, growing up in the forests and dirt roads of Columbus county meant long distances between schools or job locations. "I worked for FedEx and had to drive 3 hours to get to one city, then several hours back, sometimes 5 hours in a day." Switching to becoming a peer support specialist with Coastal Horizons was closer to home, but didn't make use of his tech interest. "I do music writing and production, and since 2017, I've been producing my own Gospel songs in a home studio," Tanty explained.

Encouraged by his then-fiance, Kenda, he began considering a career change to Cyber Security, and was trying to study on his own when he heard about the classes at the George Henry White Center.

"I was excited to learn from Keith Jacobs, and the classes were using the CISCO Academy curriculum, and were free!" he explained. Along with 6 other students, he began the Networking Essentials course at the center. A few months later, he and one other student graduated that class, and a second class, with three individuals followed. "The class was great, and to be available in this remote area in the middle of the countryside--this is a gold mine in a remote area," he said.

"In 2022, on December 10, I proposed to my now-wife, and on Dec. 13, my mother passed, so a lot was going on. I've since relocated to Durham, and now am attending Durham Tech, where I get to take the knowledge I gained already in the setting working on the actual racks and servers, so it's very useful."

A fellowship with MDB Inc. to set up their server room gave him some more real-world experience.

"In the climate we're in, cyberattacks are taking place daily. Threats are happening every day," he explained. "Networking and cybersecurity professionals will only be more sought after, as the stress level increases, and fresh minds are needed."

The George Henry White Center, he said, is offering local people the much-needed training to become an IT professional and have a career in a field that is only growing.

"I wish people could understand what a treasure this is," he said. "For someone to be teaching IT classes in the middle of the county--for FREE--that's big. This is big," he said.

Computer classes in basic computer skills are being taught at the center, under the auspices of Bladen Community College. The Computer Networking course is being taught with the CISCO Academy curriculum, under the tutelage of Retired Army Captain Keith Jacobs. Each course can help learners prepare for jobs and to launch their professional careers. To sign up, click below:

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