In 2001, Brent Forrest got started doing voice and data cabling and phone systems with his family. After 9/11, his family closed the doors on the business but Brent continued on his own. Eventually one of his larger clients ended up upgrading their phone system from traditional PBX to a Cisco Voice-over IP, so Brent began looking at the next steps.
“I didn’t have a lot of experience on the IP side so I decided to start going back to school,” Brent said. “I started going to the Collin College, being in Collin County, and I found that they had a convergence degree plan that no other school had in the DFW area that I was aware of anyway.”
Brent met professors like Pete Brierley and Mike Harsh who helped guide him. “[They] really kind of pushed me to not just accept the classes at their minimum,” Brent said. “It was kind of funny, Pete said he wouldn’t pass me unless I passed my certification for my CCNP Voice. So I took that as a challenge, and I ended up passing all five tests within a month of each one of the five exams.”
As part of the Convergence Technology program at Collin, Brent was able to travel to Washington D.C. to participate at the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) annual ATE Principal Investigator’s Conference. Brent was also given the opportunity to build out one of the voice labs from start to finish. Brent later graduated with his Associate’s Degree and accelerated on his job with the skills that he learned at Collin.
“I never started out as wanting to have a degree or be in management,” Brent said. “I’ve gone from a telecom technician to a network engineer. Now, I’m manager over cybersecurity and network infrastructure.”
Brent is now pursuing Bachelor’s in IT Security at Western Governors University. He also said that he would really love to get his CISSP at some point and eventually become a director.
“If it wasn’t for finding Collin College and the convergence program, I don’t think I would’ve really had the push from the professors on that to complete my degree,” Brent said. “I know that there’s been a lot of students that have come through and benefited from this program. And I would love to see that continue.”