Single Father Makes Son Proud by Working Towards His Associate Degree in Information Technology

For years, Mike Byrd urged his young son to work hard in school and follow his dreams. Yet, he was left feeling hypocritical for not achieving his own educational goals. Mike says his high expectations for himself drove him to make a big change. “I wanted to make myself and my son proud,” he says. So, after 12 years in a successful sales career, Mike decided to heed his advice and focus exclusively on school.

Growing up outside Cincinnati, Mike easily recalls how much his dad enjoyed the UC Bearcats from the Bob Huggins coaching days. “In the ‘90s, the Bearcats were competitive, and my dad loved them. I’ve been a Bearcat ever since,” he says.

Mike also remembers his first introduction to technology as a kid. “Computers were rare in my childhood. But my grandpa had one in his basement, and I was fascinated with the thing.”

It became Mike’s dream to create video games or work with computers someday.

University of Cincinnati Online, an Easy Choice for Mike

Picking a college was almost as natural as choosing his career path. After doing initial research, Mike’s affinity for the University of Cincinnati (UC) spurred his decision to enroll in spring 2021 for the online Associate of Applied Business in Information Technology (IT) program. Mike felt UC Online had the right mix of essential curriculum, being a respected program, and reasonable tuition. “I based my decision on the full value a program would provide, and UC Online was the best choice,” he says.

Mike spoke to an Enrollment Services Advisor who helped him through the admissions process, including obtaining transcripts. He also connected with his Student Success Coordinator Craig. “I continued to talk to him during the first two semesters. He would advise me on course selection, so I could make decisions on my end,” Mike says.

Being able to manage his time at school and studying online while raising his son came relatively easy for Mike. Working at his “command center” (a kitchen table), he begins his days early and stays focused on school. Mike believes his diligence is making an impression on his 14-year-old son. “It’s been rewarding to show him that when you put in the effort, you get high marks in return,” he says.

Now in the Associate IT program’s final semester, Mike knows his initial expectations for the online program have been met. “I feel the class content leads specifically to what I want to do,” he says. “My focus area is programming, and the content teaches you the foundational programming skillset. The experience with UC was exactly what I was hoping for.”

“It’s always been my dream to be a computer programmer.”
– Mike Byrd, Online Associate of Applied Business in Information Technology student

Standout Educational Experience in Online IT Associate Program

The Associate of Applied Business in Information Technology curriculum spans critical fundamentals of information technology, English composition, computer programming, system administration, and other courses designed for UC Online’s associate degree.

Mike says several courses left a lasting impression on him. He particularly enjoyed studying Java Script with Professor Timothy Dennis, who incorporated a set of videos alongside the coursework. This instructional tactic helped Mike gain the confidence to try programming himself. “It was a combination of the course content and instructional videos that worked best for me,” he says.

Mike says the database course taught by one of his professors was also exceptional. “I liked the structure and optional synchronous meetings to review course material. It made a huge difference, especially now that I’ve put some of that education into use,” he says.

Giving His Time to Help Other Technology Students

Mike Byrd, IT Student
Mike Byrd, a UC Online student, is in his last semester of the Associate in Information Technology program.

Mike grew his UC Online experience when he became involved in the Tech Club, a group for technology students and like-minded individuals. Mike quickly hit his stride in Tech Club and under his leadership, the club played a role when local businesses came to UC looking for technology interns. At one meeting, Mike showed up with a few club members and his resume and received an invitation to interview for an intern position the same day. The intern experience led to full-stack development work, making Mike’s hopes for the future a reality. “It’s always been my dream to be a computer programmer,” he says. “Getting that internship meant so much to me.”

Mike continues his involvement in Tech Club, where he helps other students see the potential of a career in technology. “I recruit students to participate and get involved to facilitate meaningful opportunities for them,” he says. “I want them to have the same rewarding experience I had.”

“My goal is to work for a large company and make a difference in the field of data privacy.”
– Mike Byrd, UC Online student

Up Next, Bachelor’s in Information Technology

This December, Mike will complete the online Associate in Information Technology program. After graduation, he’ll immediately enroll in UC’s Bachelor’s in Information Technology, concentrating on software development. “I’ll continue my full-time study pace to get the additional knowledge and experiences I need,” he says.

Mike believes furthering his education and staying out of the workforce for the next few years will allow him to feel well-rounded and confident in his skill set — skills that big tech companies, like Google, Apple, and Microsoft, are after. “Working in the information field, I want to protect consumers. My goal is to work for a large company and make a difference in the field of data privacy.”

Soon, Mike’s son will graduate from high school. Around that time, he envisions a new life that might include relocating to San Francisco or another major city to pursue his IT career. Looking to the future and knowing how both hard work and chance will impact what comes next, Mike says, “I’d be willing to make a big move. But it will be up to timing and everything else going on in my life at the time.”

Feel Inspired by Mike’s Story?

Interested in learning more about UC Online’s Associate of Applied Business in Information Technology program? Email an Enrollment Services Advisor today or call the team at 833-556-4428.

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