Life is good for Richard Horn. He recently gained a fulfilling position as a cyber security network engineer with Enterprise Products, a leading U.S. provider of midstream energy services, and is being compensated handsomely for his skills and expertise. However, it was an arduous journey before the Lone Star College-Tomball Cisco Networking Academy graduate finally found the job of his dreams.
In 1992, Horn graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry. After a four-year stint as a laboratory technician in the petroleum industry, he got a job with Lone Star College-Kingwood as a laboratory coordinator, and that’s when things started to change.
“I have always been interested in science and technology. While employed at Lone Star College, I took some IT-related courses at night. Our division was the recipient of a National Science Foundation grant for the construction of an interdisciplinary computer lab, and I was tasked with its design, procurement and implementation,” said Horn.
The experience left Horn with a dilemma; take the safe route and continue working in the lab or take a chance and follow his passion.
“I had always been good with computers and began to think it was time for a career change. I saw the need for small office/home office IT technical support in the community and decided to try my luck at becoming a small-business owner. The business was fairly successful for a number of years until the 2008-2009 economic crash, at which point I lost a significant portion of my business,” recalled Horn.
That was when Horn decided that it was time to return to school.
“I enrolled in the Cisco Networking Academy at Lone Star College starting with the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) program. I continued through the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) program and CCNA Security program, and began looking for work as a network engineer,” said Horn.
The Cisco Learning Network focuses on providing education, training and guidance to anyone interested in building an IT career through Cisco product and service certification. That certification validates the ability to install, configure, operate and troubleshoot medium-size route and switched computer networks, including implementation and verification of connections to remote sites in a wide area network.
Today, Horn is supporting cyber security at plants and facilities throughout Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico. “The position is very hands-on and requires traveling to the remote plant sites to resolve issues. I enjoy getting out of the office and into the field where I can ‘get my hands dirty,’” he said.
Horn is quick to add that his success was in no small part due to his Cisco Networking Academy education and in particular the efforts of his professor, Willie May.
“I have more than 200 hours of college and worked at LSC-Kingwood, from the student side and the coworker side; I know a good instructor when I see one. Willie would always go out of his way to help, share his 40 years of industry knowledge, make sure you understand some very complicated material, even send e-mails about job openings. He was very interactive; he made you feel like part of the team,” said Horn.