Sitkowski Finds Success in Stackable Degrees
Ryne Sitkowski knew he wanted a career in computer information technology but was unsure of the educational path he would take. A former Russellville High School student, Sitkowski decided to attend the Arkansas Tech Career Center for concurrent credit.
Upon learning about Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus and the opportunities for scholarships, he decided to look more closely. Sitkowski enrolled once he discovered the Computer Information Technology program and the financial support he could receive provided by the Arkansas Futures Grant.
According to Sitkowski, “My experience [at ATU Ozark Campus] has been very positive and inspiring. I’ve enjoyed the small class sizes, and the ability to interact with my peers and professors contributed to my success. The instructors were very hands-on and provided a challenging, yet fair, environment for students to learn the material and develop the necessary skills for employment. They not only taught me the subject matter but also real-world skills and application which will greatly impact me in the workplace.”
Sitkowski served as a mentor to fellow students in the program. “Ryne is a natural-born leader,” said Kale Rudolph, IT chair. “He would take charge during the collaborative team sessions, assisting other students and ensuring the teams worked together and stayed on track during projects. He was instrumental in working with me to develop a new thinking strategy titled ‘Transitional Thinking Methodology.’ This strategy facilitates students learning critical thinking and soft skills through each phase of transitioning from high school to college and into the work environment.”
“The greatest highlight during my tenure at Arkansas Tech-Ozark, is the friendships and relationships that I have built, and I hope they last a lifetime,” said Sitkowski. “Mr. Rudolph provided an inviting atmosphere for the students. We felt welcomed, and we enjoyed spending extra time on campus working on projects and/or studying with classmates.”
According to Dr. Sheila Jacobs, ATU-Ozark chief academic officer, Sitkowski’s development as a campus leader has been inspirational. Dr. Jacobs said, “Ryne was one of my students when I served as principal at Russellville High School, and I always saw leadership potential in him. Mr. Rudolph saw that potential as well and helped him grow as a leader among his peers. It has been an inspiration to witness Ryne’s growth and transformation as a campus and classroom leader. I am extremely proud of his work and leadership in the Computer Information program, and all of us at ATU Ozark look forward to watching his continued growth.”
Sitkowski is a perfect example of how stackable degrees at Arkansas Tech assist students. He began his college career while still enrolled in high school at Arkansas Tech Career Center. He obtained two certificates of proficiency, one in mobile applications and the other in computer information technology. He progressed after enrolling at the Ozark Campus by obtaining his Technical Certificate in Computer Information Technology, and he graduated last summer with an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Information Technology.
“I feel the IT program has given me the opportunity to pursue a career after completion of my associate degree or further my education and complete my bachelor’s degree at the Russellville campus,” said Sitkowski.
Sitkowski has chosen to continue his education and is now enrolled at the Russellville campus where he is seeking a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity. For the future, he said, “I see myself with a four-year degree, working full-time for a company in the area of cybersecurity and enjoying time with my family and friends.”
-By Laura Rudolph
for the Tech Action, Fall 2021