'Exceptional' students complete WCC’s Cisco Networking Academy

December 20, 2020 Rich Rezler

Exceptional Academy graduates

Dominic Czarnecki, Jalen Harper and Nicole Taylor are among the Exceptional Academy of Northville students to pass their Cisco Certified Networking Associate (CCNA) exam after completing the WCC Cisco Networking Academy. (Photos courtesy of Exceptional Academy Facebook page).


Washtenaw Community College takes great pride in the success of all its students, but one ‘exceptional’ group provides a little extra delight.

Adults with disabilities from the Exceptional Academy in Northville are enrolled in WCC’s Cisco Networking Academy and — prior to the COVID-19 pandemic — came to the college’s campus weekly for lab work. Those sessions are currently being held virtually.

Michael Galea spent more than 20 years as a faculty member at WCC before retiring in 2019. He volunteered his expertise to the Exceptional Academy program and led its first 40-week program.

Galea stepped into a consulting role for the second cohort, which began in September, and WCC hired Steven Kilduff as a part-time instructor to work specifically with Exceptional Academy students. Kilduff has extensive experience working with students with autism from his time at the Living and Learning Enrichment Center in Detroit.

The goal of the academy is to prepare students for permanent employment in cybersecurity or networking, which includes preparing them to pass the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) exam. Nearly 70% of students who complete the program have obtained their CCNA certification, according to a report from Cisco.

Just the third program of its kind in the world, the Exceptional Academy is a joint effort between the Living and Learning Center, Michigan Rehabilitation Services, Michigan Career and Technical Institute, Cisco Networking Academy and WCC.

The program also strives to educate area companies about the advantages of hiring adults with disabilities and works to place students in internships. 

FOX 2 Detroit produced an extensive profile of the academy and how it was reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020.


Cisco Networking Academy

Washtenaw Community College is an official Cisco Learning Partner, meaning you can take Cisco Certified Networking Association (CCNA) courses at WCC for a fraction of the price of other providers.

In-district students pay just $285 per class and learn from Cisco-certified instructors in small classes. Learn more at wccnet.edu/ccna.

Tags: Cisco Networking Academy, December 2020, Networking, On The Record, cybersecurity, ousearch_News_2020, ousearch_News_On The Record

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