Software academy provides post-military opportunities

Beth Jarvis, right, base engagement manager for Microsoft, discusses the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy with Soldiers Aug. 3 at the Soldier for Life Center. (Photos by Danielle Davis)

Beth Jarvis, right, base engagement manager for Microsoft, discusses the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy with Soldiers Aug. 3 at the Soldier for Life Center. (Photos by Danielle Davis)

By Danielle Davis, Bayonet & Saber /

Sponsored by the Army Continuing Education System’s Career Skills Program, Fort Benning hosted an information session on the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy Aug. 3 at the Soldier for Life Center.

The MSSA program began in Nov. 2013 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, said Ashley Molina, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s associate campus director on Fort Benning.

The MSSA helps active duty U.S. service members develop the career skills necessary to meet the IT industry’s high demand for cloud developers, cloud administrators, and database and business intelligence administrators, explained Molina.

Lavanda Harrison, a graduate of the MSSA/ERAU program, offers advice to Soldiers interested in enrolling during an information session Aug. 3 at the Soldier for Life Center. (Photos by Danielle Davis)

Lavanda Harrison, a graduate of the MSSA/ERAU program, offers advice to Soldiers interested in enrolling during an information session Aug. 3 at the Soldier for Life Center.

Beth Jarvis, a base engagement manager for Microsoft, and Lavanda Harrison, a graduate of the MSSA program, were featured guests at the information session.

“Lavanda and I wanted to allow those in attendance the opportunity to hear a firsthand testimonial from someone who’s graduated from the program,” said Jarvis.

Harrison offered words of encouragement and advice to those interested in enrolling in the program. “Don’t be afraid. Failure is a lesson. If you learn from it, then you can turn things around quickly.”

“The program is very hands-on. There were a number of projects. You’re putting a lot of different things together,” she added.

Harrison also suggested more women consider enrolling in the MSSA program.

“Technology is male dominated. There’s a lot of push to get women into programs like this. I would say to female Soldiers specifically don’t think this is something that you can’t do. You have a ton of people rooting for you and there’s a lot of programs,” she said.

Harrison currently works as a consultant at Accenture, an IT consulting company.

“Microsoft has been really committed to helping veterans and internally we have an Information Technology need. There’s a void in people with science, technology, engineering and mathematics backgrounds and we’ve identified that veterans or transitioning military members might be the right fit,” said Jarvis.

Jarvis also said that one of the greatest benefits of the programs is that those participating are guaranteed an interview with Microsoft.

“I’m really passionate about this program. I really believe in the outcome that we’re generating and I feel like the military transitioning service members are such a great resource,” Jarvis said.

Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Opharrow, Task Force 128, left, and Capt. James Rogers review information given to them at the MSSA/ERAU information session Aug. 3 at the Soldier for Life Center. (Photos by Danielle Davis)

Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Opharrow, Task Force 128, left, and Capt. James Rogers review information given to them at the MSSA/ERAU information session Aug. 3 at the Soldier for Life Center.

“I’m looking for ways to further my career after I leave the military. I think it’s a good idea to take advantage of opportunities like this that the military offers,” said Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Opharrow, Task Force 128, regarding his interest in the MSSA information session.

“So when I received an email about today’s event, I decided to attend,” Opharrow added.

Capt. James Rogers, with the Maneuver Center of Excellence, was drawn to the information session because he looks to retire in a year and already has a background in modeling and simulation.

“I plan on enrolling in the program. I want to take advantage of getting certifications that will benefit me once I leave the military, Rogers said.

For more information about the MSSA/ERAU program or how to enroll, call 706-478-7394 or 706-505-1101. Interested individuals may also email columbus@erau.edu or visit the MSSA website at http://military.microsoft.com/training/mssa.

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