Brandon High School students who earned their Microsoft Technology Associate certifications.

Students in ninth through 12th grade can enroll in Brandon High School’s Institute of Business and Technology, which provides them with an array of programs in the fields of marketing, technology and business. As students complete and pass courses in the Customer Service Academy, NAF Academy of Finance and much more, they will then be given an opportunity to earn certifications in CIW Social Media Strategist and Intuit Quickbooks, among others. All of these programs offered will help better shape the students’ future careers.

For instance, incoming freshmen can take a digital information technology class called Microsoft Technology Associate Windows Operating System Fundamentals. With nearly 300 students in this course, it teaches students the background aspects of computers, such as learning how to set up usernames. It also fulfills the online graduation credit.

Before moving on to another course, students must pass this specific one first. In addition, the CIW Social Media Strategist certification is new this year, and through it students will learn about social media marketing for companies. Students will take the courses during school hours.

Dawnelle Stafford, academic director at Brandon High School, mentioned how many students earned certifications, saying, “A total of 67 students earned their certifications this year.”

The Carl D. Perkins Secondary Grant funds these certification programs throughout the Hillsborough County School District, with Brandon High School being one of the many participating schools. In other words, the federal government set up this grant, which goes towards the funding of career and technology education.

It also helps fund some teacher training, student organizations, testing vouchers for students, industry standard equipment and more. The district gets about $4 million a year, with 55,000 students taking career technology education courses.

Warren Brooks, Workforce Connections officer at the School District of Hillsborough County, stated the involvement that the district has with the programs.

“Our district has been very supportive of these programs in the schools for years,” Brooks said.

For more information, visit For questions, email Dawnelle Stafford at

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Tatiana Ortiz is a freelance writer with the Osprey Observer Newspaper. She began as an intern here in 2010 and has been writing since. Tatiana graduated from the University of South Florida in 2015. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations. In her free time, Tatiana enjoys photography, biking and being with her family.