Jennifer Burgess

Jennifer BurgessJennifer was thirty years old when she decided it was time for a career change. She had been working for eleven years as a pet training instructor and wanted something more stable, with a better career outlook and a change from the retail industry. Jennifer had to make many adjustments in her life to begin college, but she was determined. At 18 years old, Jennifer had tried to start college at Baton Rouge Community College but ended up leaving without a degree. She was eager to enter the workforce and had a job she liked. College seemed like too much work.

The second time as a college student was a much different experience for Jennifer. She enrolled as a business major, but with some guidance from faculty and advisors who noticed her math skills, she moved into the computer science department and began taking courses in the newly created Associate of Science degree in Computer Science. This degree offered her an option for entering the workforce in two years or for transferring into a university. Jennifer did not waste her second chance. She got involved at BRCC in a way she had never done before, becoming the President of the Computer Science Club, then becoming Student Government Association President and then the Student Board Member for the LCTCS Board of Supervisors. She graduated with honors and gave the commencement speech at her graduation from BRCC.

Jennifer attributes her success as a first-generation college graduate to the fact that she returned to BRCC for the purpose of getting on a career path that would lead to a high demand, high wage career. She didn’t want to waste her second chance, and she knew that she had to “change her stars.” Working in a low wage job for so many years with little opportunity for improving her life circumstances was her motivation to succeed.

Jennifer was the first “new collar” hire at IBM in Baton Rouge and continues to excel in her career at IBM. She currently works as a Junior Project Manager where she supervises software developers, manages projects, and mentors high school students through the IBM PTEC program at the Cy-Tech Magnet Academy in Baton Rouge.

Jennifer wants others to know, “It is never too late to change your stars, and you have to be willing and able to manage yourself to reach your goals. Computer science is an excellent career choice for women, and it is possible to be a successful adult student at a community college. Take advantage of the faculty, the resources, and the people there to help you. “