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Information System Technology Program Opens New Opportunities for Students

IST photo

Corey McDonald is planning to turn his lifelong interest in computers into a career with the training he receives through Olney Central College’s Information Systems Technology Program.

In January, OCC offered the first classes for its IST Degree and Certificate, which are designed to prepare students to handle the day-to-day operations of the computer-related activities for a business and an organization’s information systems. Students who complete the program will be able to both support and maintain computer hardware as well as software programs. Local Area Networks, Wide Area Networks and Wireless Networks also are addressed.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with computers and the program has been awesome,” McDonald said. “I’ve learned a lot so far and it has helped expand the skills I already have.”

IST students also can earn important IT certifications that will make them highly marketable. Graduates can find employment as computer software engineers, network engineers, database administrators, hardware engineers, e-mail administrators and even entry-level programmers or web administrators.

McDonald, who previously attended Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, said one of the biggest assets of the IST Program is its flexibility.

“The classes are offered at night, which is great,” he said. “Most of us in the class are working day jobs so this allows us to keep working and still earn a degree.”

Students enrolled in the IST Program can earn either a one-year certificate or a two-year associate’s degree. Those who complete the degree can transfer to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and finish their bachelor’s degree either on campus or through SIU’s online program.

McDonald, who plans to pursue his bachelor’s degree online, recently started BC Computing Solutions in Olney with IST classmate Brian Siegel. The pair attended high school together and became reacquainted through their classes at OCC. The two began studying together and shared their mutual desire to start their own business.

“We decided to do it together,” McDonald said.

McDonald and Siegel, both of Olney, received their business license in March for the company that provides technology solutions and a variety of services including cleanup, installation, repair, custom-built computers and advice.

McDonald had high praise for instructor Dustin Leek.

“Dustin works for and with us,” McDonald said. “I couldn’t ask for a better instructor.”

Marcus Massey, of Newton, was thrilled to learn OCC was offering the IST Program last year.

“I had been out of college for 12 years and I knew I wanted to do something with computers,” he said. “I had started as a computer science major, but this program offered a faster track to finish my degree while I was working. I was really excited to find out OCC was offering this program because it can get me to where I want to be.”

Massey plans to complete his IST Degree and then earn his bachelor’s degree online through SIU.

Alicia Yates, of West Salem, decided to pursue her IST Degree after losing her job of 37 years through downsizing.

“I’ve used and enjoyed working with computers since the early ’80s and thought this was something I would enjoy,” she said. “It has been a challenge, but I really like it. I think it is great that OCC is offering this program. This is a wonderful opportunity for everyone to earn a degree here and complete a bachelor’s degree online.”

McDonald encourages others to look into the program.

“I would 100 percent recommend it even if you have no basic skills whatsoever,” he said. “It just takes a little commitment.”

The program is currently accepting new students for the fall semester. To register, call 618-395-7777. If you are interested in learning more about the program, contact Leek at 618-263-2747 or by email at

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