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Gadgets and Gizmos

Rigel Leonard and Mendy Rodriguez
Rigel Leonard and Mendy Rodriguez
April 17, 2012

In high school, Queens native Mendy Rodriguez enrolled in a technology class—and for her, that was “it”—she found her calling.

“I really enjoyed the class,” she said, emphasizing it was offered through a non-profit program called MOUSE. “I learned how to troubleshoot printers, laptop, desktops…”

Founded in 1997, MOUSE is a youth development organization that empowers underserved students by providing technology support in their schools.

The MOUSE Squad program trains students in managing support help desks in their schools, improving their ability to use technology to enhance learning.

The program has been praised by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who stated that MOUSE, “provides our city’s schools with the technological tools and support to keep our children competitive in the information age.”

Exposure to internships

“The program exposes high school students to various technology fields they didn’t think existed,” says Rodriguez. “It also gives them the opportunity to network and possibly land an internship.”

As was the case with Rodriguez, a Computer Networking Technology major at BMCC.

Through MOUSE, Rodriguez participated in a two-week shadowship program, “following five people in different technology fields and levels.”

This lead to a paid internship with the Service Desk at Time Inc., which transitioned into a full-time job.

Rodriguez currently works as a Junior Service Desk Analyst for Time Inc. Information Technology.

“My brother and cousins went to BMCC,” explains Rodriguez about her decision to enroll. “I love everyone in my major, as we share similar interests. I work a nine-to-five job, so I take evening classes.”

Working close to BMCC

Computer Information Systems major Rigel Leonard joined the MOUSE program offered at his Brooklyn high school. “I’ve always been good with computers, and often took them apart,” he laughs.

He participated in a summer internship program coordinated by MOUSE, in partnership with the New York Tech Meetup, that gives students an opportunity to work and learn at New York’s most innovative technology companies.

After an interview process, Leonard, who describes himself as a “people-person," was placed at TekServe where he first interned in the Customer Support department.

“The job was really interactive and since I communicated with customers mostly via email, I found my writing skills greatly improved” he says.

Rigel was later hired full-time at TekServe, where he still works in Customer Support. The company’s main office is headquartered in the Chelsea area, not far from BMCC.

“I work about four to five hours a day and arranged my classes around work,” says Rigel, who points out that in today’s economy, he’s grateful that MOUSE helped him score a job.

The appeal of community college

“By participating in MOUSE programs, students develop problem solving, critical thinking and communications skills that contribute greatly to their college experience,” says Carole Wacey, Executive Director, MOUSE. “They are excited and inspired by colleges like BMCC that encourage creativity and innovation, and provide opportunities for students to reach their greatest potential.”

An associate’s degree in computer networking enables some graduates to obtain a technology-based position quickly—another reason BMCC is an attractive college option for MOUSE students.

Rodriguez and Leonard highly recommend MOUSE to local teenagers.

“Being involved with MOUSE reminded me that New York City is so big and there are so many opportunities here,” says Leonard, who advises students to seek out internships that can lead to full-time jobs, but “don’t settle for a job that may be too remedial for your skillset.”

Meanwhile, Rodriguez recalls that MOUSE gave her “confidence.”

“I like that MOUSE exposes girls to the tech world, encouraging them to consider careers in a field that’s male-dominated,” she says.

EDITOR’S NOTE: MOUSE stands for ‘Making Opportunities for Upgrading Schools and Education.'

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  • MOUSE encourages the use of technology inside and outside the classroom
  • Graduates are drawn to community colleges like BMCC which offer computer courses

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