An IT trailblazer

Jonathan Morales, a recent Olympic High graduate and NAF Career Academy of Engineering diploma recipient, has been selected as the first computer science apprentice for SSI Schaefer, a global German logistics company in Charlotte. Jonathan will spend three years blending computer science classes at Central Piedmont Community College with hands-on work experience at Schaefer.

Jonathan wants to work in information technology (IT) because he wants to save lives.

"Cholera is a prime example of how technology can be life-saving. In many countries, those suffering from the disease didn't know they could be treated with a prepackaged mixture of sugar and salts," said Jonathan. "Many of those countries made an effort to inform people using technology to spread the word. It made a difference."

During his junior year, one project in his computer manufacturing class made him realize that an IT career was the right path for him.

"We had to figure out what job we wanted, based on an online assessment, and create a presentation on it. Based on my answers, I was given several career paths and resources to achieve it," said Jonathan. "My results were careers in technology and in the arts. I liked technology more."

Jonathan's senior project was about artificial intelligence (AI).

"AI is exciting. We already have SIRI and self-driving cars but there is so much more you can do with it," he said. "There are already AI devices that can help diagnose medical issues. Computer science is an ever-evolving field."

Mike Realon, the school's Career Technical Education Academy Coordinator, asked a representative from SSI Schaefer to come speak at the school. When Jonathan heard the presentation, he knew it was an opportunity he couldn't pass up.

Jonathan said he was excited for the opportunity to distinguish himself as a potential employee.

Realon said Jonathan was a perfect candidate for the launch of SSI Schaefer's apprenticeship program because of his critical-thinking skills and enthusiasm for computer science.

"For America's youth, apprenticeships are a pathway that combine college classroom learning with authentic on-the-job technical training that fosters upward economic and social mobility," said Realon. "It also addresses the serious technical talent gap afflicting the American economy, which has caused almost $6 million in jobs to remain unfilled today."

Jonathan is eager to get started.

"I begin in August and can't wait to see where this road leads me," he said. "Eventually, I'd like to be the CEO of a technology company so I can be influential in this industry."