Gilmore Trades in Welding Torch to Fight Cyber Crimes
Joshua Gilmore wouldn’t describe himself as a serious student in high school. “I didn’t really care for my future. I was more concerned with cracking jokes,” he shared. “Now that I’m grown, I realize there is a time for laughing and a time for seriousness.”
A Spark Ignited
In the 10th grade Gilmore followed one of his friends to Oconee Fall Line Technical College (OFTC) to take welding classes through the college’s dual enrollment program.
Georgia’s Dual Enrollment Program allows qualified high school students to maximize their education and career training by taking courses that earn college and high school credit at the same time.
While taking his welding and joining technology classes, Gilmore realized his passion wasn’t in welding. But something in him was changing; a spark was ignited and that spark ultimately changed the direction of his life.
“When I first got to OFTC my outlook on life changed,” Gilmore said. “The staff was friendly, helpful, and genuinely seemed to have my best interest at heart.”
His instructors were more than he ever expected. “They took an interest in me and made an investment in more than just my education,” Gilmore added. “I would have long talks with some of my instructors, not about school but about personal stuff and life. This shaped me into the person I am today and eventually made me choose to further my education at OFTC.”
Gilmore completed his Gas Metal Arc Welder Technical Certificate of Credit through dual enrollment at OFTC and graduated from Jefferson County High School. But instead of furthering his education he decided to go straight to work.
“Even though I had a good experience at OFTC in dual enrollment, the last thing I wanted to do after high school was go to college,” Gilmore said. “But I soon learned that most people aren’t happy at their jobs. I noticed I wasn’t going to be able to make enough money to achieve my goals of owning a house or buying a car.”
In that moment his future was clear – Gilmore needed to further his education if he wanted to obtain the life and job he wanted.
A Future in Cyber
“Remembering my experience at OFTC with the staff is what brought me back,” he said. Only this time, Gilmore knew his future wasn’t in welding but in cybersecurity.
Intrigued with computers from a young age, Gilmore was fascinated with how computers worked. As he grew older and technology evolved his interest in computers matured. Now he was interested in how to build computers and what it took to secure them.
“I’ve always looked at computers and cybersecurity as a challenge,” Gilmore said, “because computers are constantly evolving with new updates. The world is becoming more technology driven every day and I knew that this, coupled with my love for the field, meant I would never become complacent in the cyber field.”
Gilmore signed up for online cybersecurity classes through OFTC’s Jefferson County Center in Louisville and says having a college like OFTC so easily accessible “is wonderful.”
“It means a lot to have this place available locally and it shows me that there are opportunities for people right here in Louisville,” he added.
Due to his work schedule and lack of reliable transportation, the online format worked well for Gilmore. “My classes were very structured and I always knew what was expected of me each week. I would have to keep up with things regularly and check the weekly announcements to make sure I wasn’t missing anything,” he said.
With his goal in mind to become a Cybersecurity IT consultant, Gilmore dedicated himself to succeeding at his classes. “I could tell that these classes were truly preparing me to get the job I wanted,” he shared. “The program taught me the fundamentals of cybersecurity and showed me what my duties would be as a cyber security IT specialist.”
Ready for the Future
Gilmore’s dedication and drive enabled him to complete his OFTC classes and he graduated with his cybersecurity diploma in August 2021.
“OFTC changed everything for me,” Gilmore said. “My experience was overwhelmingly life changing. Even though the classes were challenging, the knowledge I gained and the camaraderie I experienced with the staff set me on a different path and changed the trajectory of my life. OFTC set me up for a successful career.”
“A college like OFTC is a great choice for people because it doesn’t take you four years to finish and they give you exactly what you need to succeed in your chosen career field,” he added.
Gilmore plans to continue learning and further his education in the cybersecurity field. He plans to become COMP TIA+ Certified and hopes that his hard work will land him a job at the Georgia Cyber Center in Augusta.
And not only does Gilmore plan on a successful career, he wants to one day use his success to give back to the youth in his community, impacting their lives the way others changed his.