Current Article

Patti Burks
Patti Burks teaches web development to students at Brookhaven College.
 

​Contact: Ann Hatch
ahatch@dcccd.edu; 214-378-1819 

For immediate release — April 4, 2018

(DALLAS) — When Stacy Holloway was growing up, she dreamed about becoming an astronaut after watching movies like "The Right Stuff" and "Apollo 13." Her parents even woke her up in the middle of the night to watch space shuttles fly across the sky, and she stargazed through a telescope that she received on her 14th birthday.

Later, Holloway realized something important: "There's so much more to space exploration than the person who pilots the ship. It also takes a team of highly-skilled people to get those heroes up there." She learned even more on her high school robotics team, whose members were taught by volunteers from Texas Instruments. That experience generated her interest in computers.

"When I entered college, I was undecided about my major," Holloway recalls, "but I knew I wanted to pursue art and something related to computer science. I was baffled by how much coding the freshmen already knew." She enrolled at Texas Tech University with the idea of combining art courses with computer science — a male-dominated field at that time. And very few students were taking courses in both areas.

Holloway, who transferred to the University of North Texas and earned her bachelor's degree in fine arts, decided to switch gears after 14 years as a graphic designer. She did some research and discovered that the field of web development needed graphic designers with a fine arts background to produce functional yet eye-pleasing websites.

Now she uses those skills as a web developer, which complements her background in communication design, technical writing and graphic design. "With my background and interests, web development was a great fit," says Holloway, who credits Brookhaven College faculty member Patti Burks with encouraging her to enroll in coding classes. "Brookhaven offers evening and online courses that are very convenient and affordable."

High Tech Meets Creative in Web Development

Patti Burks, who directs the web development program at Brookhaven College, says that web development comprises many skills which are "wrapped into one job."

Burks says, "Web development combines technical and creative skillsets, including good writing and grammar skills, plus several other key areas: content (to be able to communicate well); coding (HTML and CSS); programming (the behind-the-scenes aspect that makes web pages do something); programming that's focused on internal web development (such as databases); and design (graphics and art).

That high-tech, artistic combination of skills is essential for web developers, and those skills are in high demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for web developers are projected to increase by 15% from 2016 to 2026. In Texas, that career pays well, too — the annual mean wage in the Lone Star State is $71,000.

"I tell all of my students, 'The more technical you are, the more employable you are,'" says Burks. "Extra tech skills are important in this field. And most web developer students at Brookhaven also take classes in the visual communications department. You see many cross-overs, and it's a very multidisciplinary program. And I often see graphic designers decide to pursue web jobs because they can make more money."

Brookhaven students can earn level 1 and level 2 certificates as well as an associate degree in web development; all are stackable credentials, says Burks, who adds that the program also offers a capstone project in which the college partners with a local nonprofit organization and students create a website for them.      

"They apply everything they've learned and can actually see their work used in a practical application," says Burks, who was a programmer for 24 years in industry before she joined the Brookhaven College faculty in 2001. "A few students have helped their clients even after they graduated."

A Career Field Evolves

Burks, who teaches two levels of web development which include HTML and CSS classes, says that students also take courses in JavaScript, PHP, internet commerce, WordPress, Joomla!, Drupal and SQL. "It is important to understand how all of these components work together. And students need a broad understanding of these different aspects for entry-level jobs," she adds.

"Most students don't come prepared for college in this field. Some have a little bit of experience, but they all will learn what the field is like," says Burks. "Sometimes folks just want to learn how to build a website when they sign up for classes here. We also have people from area businesses who want to learn how to build websites and maintain them. Everyone has an opportunity to learn skills that are more creative or complex."

She adds, "Most of our students leave with jobs at small or mid-sized companies locally, so it's important to have a wide range of skills.

And Burks cautions: "The web is not going away any time soon. If you don't like change or learning new things, web development is not for you."

Brenda Cardona
Brookhaven student Brenda Cardona loves the creativity of web development and the freedom to take all of her classes online.
 

Change Is Good

Brookhaven student Brenda Cardona is embracing change. A registered medical assistant, she has worked at Children's Medical Center since 2008 in areas such as endocrinology, diabetes, plastics, ENT (ear, nose and throat) and neurosurgery. After almost 10 years of witnessing both good and challenging, life-altering experiences, she's decided to change her career field and do something she's dreamed of: the arts.

She recalls, "I was getting ready to enroll in a nursing program, but I just kept putting it off. Then one day, I took my son to the Dallas Art Institute for a gaming career information session. I heard about web development and wondered what the career is like. I did some research on the internet about the field and the cost of programs. That's when I decided to enroll at Brookhaven College. It's affordable."

Cardona, who is pursuing an associate degree, loves the creativity and satisfaction she experiences because there are so many areas to explore "from the back end (of web development) to the creative side of the front end."

She adds, "My dream is to work for Google or Amazon — but starting anywhere else as a new employee without experience will be just fine." She decided to enroll at Brookhaven because she could take all of her classes online, which lets her balance family time and school time. "When you work full time, that's a huge advantage."

Holloway and Cardona both look forward to finishing their degrees at the end of the fall 2018 semester and working in a field that they enjoy.

"I hope to find a job in the web development field and put my skills to work," says Cardona. "I am sooooo ready for that day!"

"After I receive my associate degree, I plan to pursue a master's degree while I continue to work full time. It will take a while, but there's so much more to learn," says Holloway. "I am particularly interested in both UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) design.

"Because the professors at Brookhaven are so passionate about what they teach, I want to pay it forward," she adds. "I want to volunteer for Girls Who Code so that I can encourage young women to pursue coding. Going back to school was exactly what I needed."

Web/internet services degree and certificate options are offered at Brookhaven and North Lake colleges. They include: an associate degree in web production and design; and certificates in basic web production, open source, web developer specialist, web development, and web development and design.

For more information about Brookhaven's web development program, contact Burks by phone at 972-860-4329 or by email at pburks@dcccd.edu.      

# # #

Visit our Computer Information Technology program profile webpage at dcccd.edu/CIT to learn more.