BCECHS senior preps for computer career

Published 9:54 pm Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Brittany Cherry, a fifth-year senior at Beaufort County Early College High School, prepares a laptop computer for use by students at Beaufort County Community College. (Contributed photo/Beaufort County Community College)

Brittany Cherry, a fifth-year senior at Beaufort County Early College High School, is well on her way to a successful career in the world of computers, thanks not only to the education she has received at the high school but the work experience she has gained at Beaufort County Community College.
In May, Cherry, 17, will graduate with a certificate in Web Design from Beaufort County Community College. After that, she plans to return to the school to finish her associate’s degree in Computer Information Technology.
She hopes to transfer to East Carolina University, earn a master’s degree in computer science and, in her own words, “go from there.”
Her ultimate goal is to open her own computer business.
In the meantime, she has joined the BCCC staff, working part-time with Network Administrator Brown McFadden, as an Apple support specialist while continuing her school work.
As part of a $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor for technology and equipment upgrades, BCCC is buying various Apple products, including IPads, IMacs and auxiliary products that will be used by students enrolled in industrial-related courses.
In her work, Cherry is in charge of preparing these new products for use by students and providing support and trouble-shooting for all of them as they are being used.
“I have had the opportunity to work with many wonderful students over the past 30 years and I am very pleased to have Brittany working for Network Services,” said McFadden. “She brings an excitement as we use the grant funds to bring new technologies to the campus.
“I know she will do a great job configuring and rolling out these new systems for the campus,” he said.
Cherry was a home-school student until she entered the ninth grade in the first class at the early college high school when it opened in 2008.
The Pinetown native was inspired to apply to the school because of the opportunity it offered.
But, she said, attending school with students other than family members for the first time in her life was an adjustment.
“It was a huge shift,” she said.
After enrolling in the high school, she first chose to pursue an associate in arts degree from BCCC but later changed to Computer Information Technology. As a result, she will have to return to BCCC for an additional semester to complete all the courses required for an associate’s degree in that program.
Even so, she will be able to earn an associate’s degree and complete her bachelor’s and master’s degrees ahead of most students her age who did not attend an early college high school.
“I’m really doing a lot for my age,” she said. “It’s amazing – sitting here so young but achieving so much.”
Cherry credits her parents for inspiring her interest in computers.
Her mother, Teresa, works in network services and her father, Pete, is a former truck driver who uses computers in his automotive repair work.
Her interest in computers combined with an interest in drawing at an early age.
She learned the computer code for designing pages on the Internet and began designing her own websites when she was just 11 or 12 years old.
“I love taking computers apart and putting them back together,” she said. “And it feels good fixing things for people who need the help.”
Cherry has been active in school and community affairs for several years. As an early college high school student, Cherry was a member of the Volleyball Club, worked on the yearbook staff and prom committee. In her spare time, Cherry enjoys participating in 4-H activities in Washington County.