Mother-of-six Jill Cagle is thriving as an IT specialist with Syntelligent Analytic Solutions in Luray where she is one of nearly 20 employees who either have graduated from or are still enrolled at Laurel Ridge.
Cagle, who has a bachelor’s degree in recreation from Appalachian State University, enrolled in Laurel Ridge Workforce Solutions CompTIA courses in May 2020. Her youngest child was in high school, and she had been mostly a stay-at-home mom before then.
“I started thinking about what I wanted to do,” said Cagle. “I thought about getting my master’s degree, but just the amount of money that would cost vs. the benefit of it seemed to not work for me. I heard about the Workforce Solutions program, and the trade off for the time, energy and money seemed to be a great benefit. The courses were hands-on, and could be applied to the workforce immediately.”
Between May and December 2020, Cagle earned her certifications in CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+.
She started work at Syntelligent, which has a partnership with LFFC, in March. Currently, 19 Syntelligent employees are either currently taking classes at Laurel Ridge or have already graduated, according to John Rutt, the firm’s director of support operations.
“Syntelligent has been so patient,” Cagle said. “I’m learning the practical application of what I studied at Workforce Solutions – fixing real-life problems, coming up with solutions, trouble shooting. The fact that Laurel Ridge partners with local businesses to provide employment opportunities is a great combination.
“I’ve loved working for Syntelligent. They’re family-friendly, they’re veteran-owned, they’re community-involved.”
She admitted she was a little nervous returning to school after so many years, but received reassurance from her instructor, Marc Anderson.
“He was so encouraging,” Cagle said. “He patiently answered my questions and encouraged me in a lot of ways to continue to pursue this goal. It can be pretty intimidating to be a returning student, but I was encouraged at every point.
“I’m passionate about education at the community college level. Class sizes are small and offer practical applications for immediate employment. And, they’re budget friendly. We’re living in a world where people are drowning in debt. I’m so thankful for the programming at the college.”
Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.