Photo courtesy: Jonathan Holen
What can the Community College of Aurora do for you? Just ask Jonathan Holen. He is a CCA graduate who took his community college degrees and certificates, and gave his bank account a big boost in the span of about four months.
Despite his family’s impressive resume (his mother is a certified respiratory therapist, and his father is Arapahoe County Commissioner, Bill Holen) Jonathan says he is the first person in his family to complete college.
Arapahoe County Commissioner Bill Holen
Photo Courtesy: Arapahoe County
“I attended (CCA) twice. I got my associate degree back in ‘03, and then more recently, I got a grant to come back to hone in some of my technical skills,” Holen said.
With an Associate of Arts in general studies, and an Associate of Arts and Sciences in computer science, and some certificates sprinkled in, Holen directly credits his time at CCA with finding a new career path, and doubling his yearly salary.
Holen works as an advanced video engineer for Charter Communications. He spent some time doing garage door repair, and other jobs before settling into a comfortable IT career, where he troubleshoots internet and streaming services for his customers.
He also earned a Bachelor’s degree at the University of Colorado in political science, but he says it is the technical certificates that put him over the edge.
“Those certificates ended up being very marketable, and they ended up being the difference for me being able to break through into the next income level,” Holen said. “It says on paper you’re qualified to do these things. Having a portfolio and certifications is just as, if not more important to employers than just a generalized bachelor’s degree.”
“I just ended up in tech,” he said. His original goal was to attend law school, but family diverted that plan, and sent him on a new route. “I ended up going back to my first love, which was IT.”
His time at CCA was so beneficial, he says he sings its praises to others who may be stuck in a rut, and looking for a path to a higher paying field. Though he says he knows everyone’s experience may not necessarily be the same. “Your mileage may vary, but that was my experience,” he said.
The correlation between earning potential and education is backed up by the U.S. Department of Labor and Statistics, which says a worker’s earnings increase as their educational attainment rises.