If the words from the 1986 hit song, “The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades” are true, then these students should be rocking some super dark lenses.
This year, a group of students at Cary High School (a public school near SAS headquarters in North Carolina) are preparing to take the SAS Base Programming Certification exam after one of their classmates passed the exam last year.
That certification trailblazer is senior Lucas Molander, who was wearing a bright green shirt that read “Geek” when I met him at the school for the interview.
He discovered his passion for big data during a Programming 1 class during his junior year. When his teacher, Patrick Stone, mentioned going for a SAS Certification, Molander was the only student up for the challenge.
“I wanted to make Mr. Stone proud,” said Molander. “But it was also a goal I wanted for myself.”
He said the key to his success was reading the SAS Certification Prep Guide from start to finish. Now that he’s certified, he’s hoping it will land him an internship at SAS and, in the future, a high-paying job at a big company – after college, of course.
Getting SAS Certified has now become a challenge for students enrolled in SAS Programming 1 at Cary High. This year, four other SAS Programming 1 students, Erika Christiana, Kim Hoff, Tia Holmes and Christian Henshaw, all seniors, are studying for the certification exam.
Hoff and Henshaw both have parents that work at SAS, so you could say the programming bug is in their genes.
“I enjoy everything about computers,” said Henshaw. “I know learning these skills will open up a lot of opportunities for me after high school.”
The students didn’t seem to be intimidated by the idea of the comprehensive, two-hour exam -- or the fact that they also have SATs, ACTs, homework and prom on their plates. “I feel like nothing is hard if you put your mind to it,” said Hoff.
Stone isn’t surprised that his students are taking his class to the next level.
“The best students are always drawn to this Programming 1 class,” he said. “But I don’t sugar coat it for them. It’s a professional-level certification, and I make sure the kids know that.”
Stone said SAS makes it easy for him to teach the course, by providing the software, learning materials and even some SAS swag for the students at no cost to the school.
SAS Global Certification Manager Terry Barham said it’s somewhat rare to have high school students taking the exams, but he’s seen a few other students pass it. He attributes the new trend to schools like Cary High and the Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology in Charlotte, NC, for providing in-depth training to younger students.
“A few years ago, it was unheard of for a high school student to even attempt the SAS Base Programming exam,” said Barham. “What is so impressive is that they take the same exam as everyone else – there is no simplified version for high school students.”
The students at Cary High are planning to take the certification exam sometime in the spring. Whether or not they pass, it’s clear to see they all have a bright future ahead.