By Colby Denton, Blue Ridge Marketing and Communications Dept.
Building on a lifetime of interest in computers, software and programming, Blue Ridge graduate Eric VonCannon recently started a new role in Information Technology (IT) thanks to his degree.
The 53-year-old is originally from Asheboro, North Carolina, and moved to the area in 2004.
He spent a year at Greenville Technical College studying Computer Programming, but ultimately didn’t finish.
With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, his wife suggested that VonCannon work on finishing his degree. This is where Blue Ridge Community College came into the picture.
Starting at Blue Ridge in Fall 2020, he majored in Information Technology Computer Programming and Software Development Pathway.
One thing he appreciated about Blue Ridge during the pandemic was its expansive online course offerings.
“I looked at multiple area colleges, and few had anything close to the amount of courses Blue Ridge offered,” he said. “Java, C++, C#, Python, SQL, you really get a lot of exposure to different programming languages.”
He recently graduated summa cum laude in July 2022 with an Associate of Science degree.
VonCannon’s interest in computers started from a young age when his father encouraged VonCannon’s passion by buying him a Commodore 64 desktop computer. This, coupled with his regular reading of programming magazines, ensured his interest remained alive and well.
He kept programming as a hobby, but wanted to formalize his knowledge, leading him to continue his education.
“People would always ask me ‘what would you major in if you went back to school?’ and I’d tell them computer programming,” he said.
Prior to earning his degree, he worked in warehouse material handling and inventory control. Ironically, despite driving forklifts, VonCannon said he was viewed as the employee who “wasn’t an IT guy, but understood computers,” wherever he went.
He credits his wife’s continuous support as a driving factor that helped him finish.
Armed with his degree and several years of programming experience, he recently landed a job as a Technician/Junior Programmer with Henderson County Public Schools (HCPS).
“There’s definitely a need for IT professionals in our region,” he said.
Prior to his new role, he finished a work-based learning internship with HCPS, which offered him a wide array of training ranging from repairing computers and working on the HCPS website to maintaining databases.
One of the best parts of his internship was the obvious effect his work had on the students.
“At the end of the day, I’m helping these kids and their teachers. It really makes you feel good about yourself,” he said.
VonCannon’s past experience with inventory control offers several avenues for future job growth, and he’s also interested in trying his hand at freelance work in his spare time.
“There are lots of opportunities if you know where to look,” he added.
To learn more about Blue Ridge’s IT program, visit blueridge.edu/information-technology.