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In between core subject classes and extracurricular activities, many high school students don’t seriously consider career options. However, at Destinations Career Academy of Wisconsin (WIDCA), an online school that combines traditional academics with career technical education (CTE) courses, students gain workplace skills and experience while taking core high school classes.

This career-oriented curriculum has proven extremely beneficial for Eric, a current student at WIDCA who enjoys computer programming. Eric is able to take courses focused on his passion through WIDCA’s Information Technology pathway. Eric recently competed at the 45th Annual SkillsUSA State Conference – where he won the computer programming competition!

SkillsUSA is a national career and technical student organization that is made of up students across the country who take CTE courses. Every year, Wisconsin holds a state competition in which students compete against each other in their chosen skill.

“I participated in the computer programming competition,” Eric explained. “There were three parts to the two-day competition – a written test on computer science fundamentals, a mock interview with résumé review, and a coding lab where we had two hours to complete two programming challenges.” After excelling in all three tests, Eric was deemed the 2018 computer programming state champion for Wisconsin!

Winning at the state level means Eric is eligible to compete at the national competition, which takes place June 25-29 in Louisville, KY.

Eric’s interest in computer programming began in an unlikely but amusing way. “When I was younger, my parents put parental controls on my computer,” he explained. “Naturally, the first thing I did was attempt to break through the controls until I was successful!”

Eric has leveraged his skills to help others in the gaming world. “I got around to creating a safe server for young people on Minecraft. It provided a community space that was free of profanity and bullying. Formally learning to program was a logical extension of these early experiences,” he said.

Since enrolling in WIDCA, Eric has been able to delve deeper into computer programming. “Destinations has helped me further explore my passion for computer programming by providing a way for me to invest time learning about important computer science concepts and writing programs every day,” Eric says. He even has learned more about the challenging Java programming language, which helped him win the Skills USA competition: “I probably wouldn’t have been exposed to this depth of information as a self-taught Java user,” Eric noted.

Eric plans to pursue a career in network and information cybersecurity. But right now he’s more excited to be able to continue his studies and take advanced computer courses at a local technical college next school year.


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