Last Monday Urban Ed kicked off the winter session of its IT Help Desk training program, welcoming a class of 13 students. For new Senior IT Instructor Kalonji Guillory, the classroom is a familiar setting--he's an Urban Ed graduate himself. Since completing the program in 2013, he has worked in several IT technician, desktop support, and technology specialist positions in the public and private sector. Now he is back at Urban Ed, where he is responsible for the coordination and impleme
ntation of the IT training program.
Kalonji explains his desire to come to Urban Ed to help others a
chieve career success by saying, "Urban Ed trained me to be a thorough technician. Before Urban Ed I was an educator; and when I was approached with the opportunity to
put all my
experience and skills together and be an instructor at Urban Ed I re
my destiny was." Kalonji is passionate about
working with young
people, especially when it comes to sparking their interest in STEM activities. He attributes this in part to his experience as a program coordinator with Hungry Brains, a program manager with the Congressional and National
Young Leaders Conference, and as a literacy instructor for both DC Public Schools and Fairfax County Public Schools. Kalonji is also a graduate of Oral Roberts
University with a Bachelor of Science in Communications and Art.
"This organization is the model of what is missing in our institutions and public services--and I hope to bring new energy and efficiency to its processes," Kalonji says. "I'm glad to be a part of this mission." As an instructor, he will provide students with intensive training leading to industry certifications. Urban Ed's programs are geared toward 18-30 year olds who are unemployed or underemployed and looking to build skills that will lead to stable, rewarding jobs.
In addition to teaching IT skills, the Urban Ed program helps students with the job search process. Many alumni go on to work in the federal government. In December, partnering with Alltech International, Urban Ed placed two new graduates with the Executive Office of the President as deskside support technicians, where they worked to help with the transition of President Obama from the White House.
Since its founding more than 15 years ago, Urban Ed has been inspiring more youth of color to engage in STEM careers, as well as helping more women of color enter the IT field. Urban Ed's work also helps build the pool of local talent for employers seeking qualified candidates. Kalonji sums it up by saying, "This is a very unique organization that is quite impactful and inspirational. I don't think the value of it has been fully realized yet, but I feel it will... in due time."