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WIT program opens career doors for Georgia mothers

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Kelly Gilbert was a newly single and unemployed mom, suffering from postpartum depression, and lacking a support network in Atlanta; until she found out about the WIT program, a partnership with Emory Continuing Education, that would change her life.

Now, she’s a Security Compliance Analyst at Equifax.

WIT is equipping single mothers in Georgia like Gilbert with in-demand skills and knowledge that open the doors to good-paying, high-tech jobs at leading companies including Equifax, Cox Automotive, Global Payments, Cisco and Rollins, Inc.

Emory’s 12-week Fundamentals of Cybersecurity and Information Security Continuing Education Program completed by Gilbert and her classmates is tuition free for the participating single moms. But it has rigorous eligibility requirements, and it demands significant time commitments from the 20 women that are selected to enroll each semester. It means essentially giving up their Saturdays for three straight months, and 100 percent attendance is required.
The cybersecurity and information security certificate earned by graduates is a core component of ECE partner organization Women in Technology’s (WIT) "Single Mothers Program,” which aims at improving the lives of Georgia’s more than 300,000 single mothers toiling in dead-end jobs. According to market research, there are more than 400,000 open cyber jobs in the U.S., with entry level positions paying $50,000 per year, and IT security roles averaging $117,000 annually.

“Emory Continuing Education is thrilled to have the opportunity to provide training in partnership with the WIT program to help single mothers move out of low-wage jobs and into better-paying and rewarding technology-based careers,” said Paul Welty, Ph.D., Vice Provost for Academic Innovation, Interim Executive Director, Emory Continuing Education. “This program is a strong example of fulfilling ECE’s mission of enriching the lives of non-traditional students and enhancing their careers. It is an honor to be a part of empowering these smart, resolute women in bettering their lives and the lives of their children. This certificate program advances Emory’s commitment to create, preserve, teach and apply knowledge.” 

There have been two graduating classes so far with all 40 of the graduates landing new jobs, and the next cohort begins April 23. Meanwhile, applications for the fall semester are being accepted through June 5.

In addition to learning the fundamentals of cyber and information security, the participants are offered free wrap-around services provided by WIT. These include providing daycare, transportation, meals during class, professional development, mentoring, and job placement support.

“This program has surrounded me with other phenomenal moms who experience other challenges like me, and we were able to complete this program together,” said Gilbert.

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Emory Continuing Education is a division of Emory Academic Innovation.