‘How to Get Away with Murder’: Did you watch?

Gather ’round, students: “How to Get Away with Murder’s” Viola Davis is teaching a lesson in how to win a TV show.

The Oscar nominee stars in ABC’s much-anticipated new drama from the house of Shonda Rhimes, and it debuted Thursday to critical applause and solid ratings.

The third show in ABC’s new Thursday night block devoted to Rhimes’ programming — “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away with Murder” air one after another, beginning at 8 p.m. — “Murder” was the strongest of them all in terms of number of viewers.

“Grey’s” was watched by 9.8 million at 8 p.m. and had a 3.0 rating in the adult demographic, while “Scandal” returned to its 9 p.m. time slot with 11.9 million watching and a strong 3.8 rating in the key demo.

“How to Get Away with Murder,” meanwhile, debuted to an audience of 14 million and had a 3.8 rating in the 18-49 demographic.

“Murder,” which is executive produced by Rhimes and created by “Grey’s Anatomy” writer/producer Peter Nowalk, sees Davis play Annalise Keating, a smooth criminal defense attorney and professor who’s as alluring as she is mysterious.

Keating shares the screen with a crew of eager law students working to win her approval. As their prof, she offers them a chance to intern with her firm if they perform well on an assignment.

But the group of students we meet in “How to Get Away with Murder” wind up facing a much bigger test when there’s a dead body involved.

After catching the pilot episode, most critics agree that the students may be an integral part of the story — which, despite not being created by Rhimes, certainly has her trademarks — but it’s Davis viewers will come back for.

“While the show has certain Rhimes’ accents — a strong female lead, a large and diverse ensemble, a willingness to pile on complications — it is very different from any of the series she has written,” says the Los Angeles Times. “Annalise wears neither a white hat nor her heart on her sleeve … (and) seems more than capable of being both Sherlock and Moriarty. Backward, in heels.”

For HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall, the pilot runs into trouble when it focuses too much time on the students and their deadly mystery.

“The characters involved are so much less compelling than Annalise that it feels like a magic trick gone awry — sleight of hand that keeps pulling your attention from the one person who makes the show work,” Sepinwall writes. “Viola Davis is a star, and it’s long overdue that she got to frontline a show like this. It’d be a shame if that show winds up underusing her because it didn’t trust that she’d be enough through the sheer brute force of her personality.”

The A.V. Club, which was also frustrated by a lack of Davis screen time, believes that the series has promise.

” ‘How To Get Away With Murder’ faces some of the same issues many Shondaland properties have faced: a weakness for melodramatic plotting that sacrifices emotional complexity for clichés and mere complication,” the review says. “But it has excellent bones, grounded in an outstanding pedigree and Rhimes’ demonstrated ability to keep an audience hooked from scandal to scandal. It’s not perfect, but it’s never boring.”

After Thursday’s premiere, viewers seemed to agree, with many tweeting that they’ve found their new favorite show.

Agency resumes mailing Social Security statements

Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, announced the agency will resume the periodic mailing of Social Security Statements— once every five years for most workers—while encouraging everyone to create a secure “my Social Security” account to immediately access their statement online, anytime. The statement is a valuable financial planning tool providing workers age 18 and older with important individualized information regarding their earnings, tax contributions, and estimates for future retirement, disability and survivors benefits.

“We have listened to our customers, advocates and Congress; and renewing the mailing of the Statement reinforces our commitment to provide the public with an easy, efficient way to obtain an estimate of their future Social Security benefits,” Acting Commissioner Colvin said. “I encourage everyone to create their own secure my Social Security account to obtain immediate access to their Statement online, anytime.”

Beginning this month, workers attaining ages 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 and 60 who are not receiving Social Security benefits and who are not registered for a my Social Security account will receive the Statement in the mail about three months before their birthday. After age 60, people will receive a Statement every year. The agency expects to send nearly 48 million statements each year.

The Social Security Statement helps people plan for their financial future. In addition to providing future benefit estimates, the statement highlights a person’s complete earnings history, allowing workers to verify the accuracy of their earnings. This is important because an individual’s future benefit amount is determined by the amount of their earnings over their lifetime. To date, more than 14 million people have established a personalized my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

With a “my Social Security” account, people may access the Statement from the comfort of their home, office or library whenever they choose. Individuals who currently receive benefits should sign up for a my Social Security account to manage their benefit payments and, when the need arises, get an instant benefit verification letter, change their address and phone number, and start or change direct deposit of their benefit payment.

Acting Commissioner Colvin reinforced that “whether conducting business with Social Security via the Internet, mail, telephone or face-to-face, we will continue to provide convenient, cost-effective, secure and quality customer service to meet the needs of the public we serve.”

Trendsitions: Shop & Soiree highlights Baltimore fashion

On Saturday September 20, 2014, local fashion retailers and designers hosted Trendsitions: Shop and Soiree,” an event designed to showcase Baltimore’s fashion scene.

The one-of-a-kind shopping experience offered clothing discounts at shops throughout Baltimore’s downtown neighborhoods. All of the shops were accessible by the Charm City Circulator, the free bus that takes you to Mt. Vernon, Fells Point, Harbor East, Downtown, and Harbor East.

The following locally owned and operated businesses participated: For RentShoes, Handbags in the City Baltimore, Katwalk-Boutique, Maja, Brightside Boutique, Zelda Zen, Amaryllis, Sassanova, South Moon Under, Christopher Schafer Clothier, Different Regard, Exclusively Yours Boutique, The Zone, Doll House, Loafers & Laces, Entropy Ink & Boutique, Poppy and Stella, Pink Label, Fashion Attic, Leah George Salon, Cupcake, Benedetto Men, Hats in the Belfry, LoveLace, The Showroom, Babe, Irene’s Emporium and Soul 2 Sole.

The event was fun and Indie Soul had a chance to visit many stores and even experience new sites in the city. We will keep you posted on future events because this certainly was not the last and what a way to support locally owned business, fashion, and art.

Indie Soul welcomes your questions and comments. To contact Phinesse Demps, call 410-366-3900 ext. 3016 or 410-501-0193 or email: pdemps@btimes.com. Follow him on Twitter@lfpmedia.

Denzel Washington: The essential roles

Everyone has their Denzel Washington moment.

It might have happened while watching his first Oscar-winning role in 1989’s “Glory.” Or maybe it was sparked during 1992’s “Malcolm X” biopic.

It might’ve even taken you as long as 2001’s “Training Day.”

But whenever it happened, even the most casual moviegoer can point to the movie — and sometimes, the specific scene — that made them realize Washington is a singularly gifted actor.

Now nearing 60, Washington is still impressing at the box office, as his new action movie, “The Equalizer,” is predicted to open at No. 1.

Washington has been acting onscreen for close to 40 years and has filled almost every role possible, from icon and soldier to ladies’ man and villain.

In “The Equalizer,” he slips back into the shoes of the avenger, playing a seemingly mild-mannered book lover who’s also more than willing to execute bad guys when a young prostitute he has befriended (Chloe Grace Moretz) gets hurt.

The movie itself has gotten mixed reviews, but critics agree that it’s Washington that makes the running time worth it.

“Washington keeps you watching this sleazy stuff — let’s stipulate to that before anything else,” said The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern. For The New York Times, Washington’s “craft and discipline endow even exploitative nonsense like this with a center of gravity.”

“The Equalizer” may not inspire another Denzel moment for fans, but one thing’s clear: the gift still stands.

Silicon Valley must embrace diversity

“The industry that bills itself a meritocracy actually looks more like a mirrortocracy.”

— Mitch Kapor, co-chair of the Kapor Center for Social Impact

While the number of African American, Latino and women consumers of Internet and broadband products and services is rising, their numbers at the major Silicon Valley companies continue to lag way behind. After years of resisting disclosure, tech giants such as Apple, Facebook, Yahoo and Google recently released their employment diversity numbers. As we’ve long suspected, they show a striking lack of inclusion.


Marc H. Morial, former mayor of New Orleans, is president and CEO of the National Urban League

According to published figures, at Google, three percent of the staff is Hispanic and two percent is black. Both Yahoo and Facebook report that Hispanics and blacks make up four percent and two percent of their workplaces, respectively. When Apple makes an announcement, as in its recent introduction of the iPhone 6, it usually wants the world to stand up and take notice. This was likely not the case with the release of its diversity numbers last month, which showed the company is 55 percent white, 15 percent Asian, 11 percent Hispanic and seven percent black. In his statement upon release of the report, Apple CEO Tim Cook candidly admitted, “I’m not satisfied with the numbers on this page.” This acknowledgment is a first step, but the question for Cook and his Silicon Valley counterparts is: What are you going to do about it?

For years, Silicon Valley has used the specious claim of being a “meritocracy” to explain the lack of diversity in its ranks. It has never been true that African Americans, Latinos or women are somehow less able to excel at high tech jobs. It is true that communities of color and women continue to be underrepresented in the attainment of science and engineering degrees. The National Urban League is working to increase those numbers with efforts such as Project Ready STEM, which is supporting 10 Project Ready STEM sites across the nation. The sites are successfully operating STEM programs for nearly 300 middle or high school students, with the goals of ensuring that urban students have the necessary supports and opportunities available to them to succeed in STEM-related class work and exposing students to STEM-related careers.

However, as Freda Kapor Klein, co-chair of the Kapor Center for Social Impact explains, “The reality is that most of the barriers are structural…our sector is permeated by biases, both subtle and not so subtle.” Her co-chair and husband, Mitch Kapor, the designer of Lotus 1-2-3, adds, “Even as companies scramble to find workers in the most competitive hiring market in recent memory, most are continuing to bring aboard people who look like they do.”

It is not enough to lament the numbers; Silicon Valley must be more intentional about increasing diversity. The industry would do well to follow the example of some of the large telecom companies, which have taken proactive measures in recent years to increase diversity within their organizations. For example, AT&T’s Workforce Inclusion website states, “We know that diverse, talented and dedicated individuals are critical to our success, so we look for people from various backgrounds and give them opportunities to grow…we serve our customers better when we build diversity into all we do.”

Verizon has also made great strides in both employee and supplier diversity. According to Verizon Chairman and CEO, Lowell McAdam, “A diverse workplace is one of Verizon’s biggest strengths as a global innovation leader. Our employees’ unique backgrounds and perspectives are key to our success in delivering technology solutions that create value for our customers, shareholders and society.”

Silicon Valley companies must not only make similar statements, they must make similar commitments. They can begin by developing comprehensive diversity plans to cover hiring, procurement, governance and philanthropy. As major consumers of technology, people of color and women should also have a fair share of the jobs and wealth that Silicon Valley generates.

Marc H. Morial, former mayor of New Orleans, is president and CEO of the National Urban League.

Indie Soul Student of the Week: Montria Walker

The school season has begun and that means the return of the “Indie Soul Student of the Week!” Our first student for the new school year is Montria Walker.

Montria is a senior at Centennial in Columbia. She is planning to attend college to study speech pathology. She has a GPA of 3.93 and is taking AP Psychology. With her eyes on the future she has plans on attending college and has narrowed her choices to the colleges that she’s interested in attending are Towson University, Morgan State University, Peabody Conservatory, and Johns Hopkins University.

What really makes this student special is that she signed to a record label and has recently released her first single and music video “YOU” with the Chance Music & Media Group (CMG). The song can be downloaded from iTunes and Amazon. The single was produced with former member of ecording duo, RUFF ENDZ, David Chance. According to her publicist, “Montria’s single and album title track, “YOU” is a contemporary sound infused with modern-day pop, bringing a vibrancy and freshness to the song. It is expected to have major crossover appeal to both the young and older audience of music lovers, and gives special highlight to Montria’s amazing vocal abilities.”

For the second year in a row, she’s won a silver medal in the NAACP’s ACT-SO Competition for the Arts. The 2014 national competition was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. She was also featured in the film “Broken” with award-winning actors Tim Roth and Cillian Murphy. Congrats to Ms. Walker and we wish her much success. Be sure to check out our Facebook Page, (The Baltimore Times) to see Montria’s video for “You”.

Each week during the school year, Indie Soul will spotlight a student who excels in academics and in the community. To nominate someone for “Student of the Week,” call 410-366-3900 ext. 3016 or email pdemps@btimes.com with “Student of the Week” in the subject line.

NFL keeps fumbling

— I am sick and tired of all the hypocrisy swirling around pro athletes and the National Football League (NFL) in particular. With all the accusation about domestic violence and child abuse consuming the NFL, I wonder why the public wants to hold athletes to a standard that they don’t want to live by.


Raynard Jackson, NNPA columnist

If you work in the private sector as an accountant, engineer, or a secretary, there is a bright red line separating your professional life from your private life. Your job may prohibit you from smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol at work; but they cannot mandate that you abstain from such activities in the confines of your home. If what you do at home impacts your job performance, that may be grounds for termination; but in general, your job cannot punish you for the things you do in your private life.

Professional sports are slightly different simply because athletes sign a contract and there is a “moral” clause that is part of the agreement. The moral clause basically says that if you bring disrespect to your team or the league because of “bad” behavior that can be grounds for terminating a player’s contract.

So, let’s be real, pro sports could care less about domestic violence or child abuse (nor should they— they are not a social welfare agency). They are about making money and if they have to pretend to care about these issues to keep the money flowing, then they are willing to make an example of Ray Rice and anyone else who stands between them and their $10 billion a year revenue.

So is there any substance to this “culture of violence” in pro sports, specifically the NFL? Let me kick the statistics. There are 1,696 players in the NFL, 1,280 in Major League Baseball (MLB), and 450 in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for a total of 3,426 professional athletes.

Let me try to add a little context to this discussion. The San Diego Union-Tribune has been tracking arrests of NFL players dating back to the year 2000. They calculated the annual arrest rate per 1,000 NFL players by type of crime committed. The three most common charges are DUI, assault/battery and drug possession.

Compared to adult men in the general population, an NFL player is 11 percent less like to get a DUI charge, 23 percent less like to get an assault charge, and 59 percent less likely to get a drug charge. So, if there is going to be any outrage expressed, it should be directed towards the American population as a whole, not the NFL and its players.

The issue swirling around the NFL is about public relations, not about how their players treat women. For the NFL, bad PR means less money; so they are reacting to their corporate sponsors, not because of some concern for women’s issues.

Isn’t it ironic that feminists groups such as the National Organization of Women (NOW) are calling for Roger Goodell’s head, but they have said nothing about Nike using child labor under slave-like conditions to make shoes for the NFL when many of these workers are women and little girls.

Isn’t it ironic that Rice and his wife both admitted to being drunk when they had their fight; but yet there is no “moral outrage” being directed towards Anheuser-Bush?

If you are going to hold team owners and the NFL responsible for the conduct of their adult players; shouldn’t you also hold the beer company that provided the alcohol to the player just as responsible?

The point is, individuals make choices and must be held accountable based on those choices. If Anheuser-Bush is not responsible for a person driving while drunk, the Baltimore Ravens shouldn’t be responsible for what a player does away from his job.

The NFL is going to allocate tens of millions of dollars to all kinds of women’s groups to prove they “get” it. They will do the same thing for child abuse now that the Adrian Peterson situation has become public.

Thus far, all the players making the headlines are black in a league that is 67 percent black, so what does Roger Goodell do? He hires three white women to help advise him on women’s issues. When black women called him out on this, he basically said sit down and shut up.

Brian McCarthy, Goodell’s spokesman issued this statement: “There is a need for diverse thinking to address the issue…and that the effort to better handle this issue is a collaborative one… To be successful and make a real difference, the entire NFL will be responsible for the development and implementation of education, training and support programs.”

In other words, these white women and the white commissioner will make all the decision and then they will get black women’s input once they have allocated all the funds to white women’s groups who deal with domestic violence and child abuse.

Seems like the NFL continues to fumble the ball.

Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his website: www.raynardjackson.com.

RAMBLING ROSE: Live entertainment is hot in Baltimore!

Hello, my dear friends, how are you? It looks like fall is trying to make an appearance. The nights are getting a little chilly.

The Spindles will be performing at the “Nomads of Annapolis Old School R&B Revue” with Jim Ballard & Dr. Phill Butts 17 pieces band and Rosa Pryor’s group “Signature Live” from out of Washington, DC and much more on Sunday, September 28th at Annapolis High School, 2700 Riva Road in Annapolis, Maryland. For ticket information and bus transportation, call Phil Butts at 410-2944-4821.

(Courtesy Photo)

The Spindles will be performing at the “Nomads of Annapolis Old School R&B Revue” with Jim Ballard & Dr. Phill Butts 17 pieces band and Rosa Pryor’s group “Signature Live” from out of Washington, DC and much more on Sunday, September 28th at Annapolis High School, 2700 Riva Road in Annapolis, Maryland. For ticket information and bus transportation, call Phil Butts at 410-2944-4821.

You are invited to the Rosa Pryor Music Scholarship Fund Press Reception Party on Wednesday, October 8, 2014 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The event is free with live entertainment featuring vocalist Sharon Alford, who is Baltimore’s own Brenda Alford’s sister; Joe Hosea’s Band and “Dimitri” (a Michael Jackson performer). Ms. Maybelle will be the mistress of ceremony. The reception is a kick-off to the Rosa Pryor Music Scholarship Award Banquet Gala. You will have an opportunity to meet and greet the children who won scholarships and some of the honorees including: Dante Daniels, the owner of Maceo’s Lounge and Colin’s Seafood & Grill, Dennis Chambers, drummer; James Moody, drummer; Jacob Saulsbury, musician; Lady Rebecca, vocalist; Lucille Brooks, musician; Ronald Scott, owner of Caton Castle; Steve Scribner, vocalist; Kendra Holt, organist and Gaynell Colburn, musician. Tickets are available for the Banquet, by calling 410-833-9474.

The long-time R&B group, The Persuaders, will be singing their signature song “Thin Line between Love & Hate” and many others on Sunday, October 5 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Arch Social Club located at 2426 Pennsylvania Avenue in Baltimore.

Bilal Ali Productions presents “The Sax Divas” starring Sharon Thomas, Melinda Ford and special guest violinist, Chelsey Green. Also performing are Vivian Owens and saxophonist Marcus Mitchell. This event is Bilal’s 8th Annual fundraiser to benefit the homeless. All of this is happening on Saturday, September 27 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Gordon Center for the Performing Arts, 3506 Gwynnbrook Avenue, Owings Mills, Maryland. For ticket information, call, 443-540-7797.

The Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts announces the relocation of the 19th Annual Baltimore Book Festival to the Inner Harbor. This year they will feature more than 200 authors, including yours truly, “Rambling Rose” with both of my books. There will also be other regional talent on several stages, book signings, comics, book arts, nearly 100 exhibitors and booksellers, children’s activities, cooking demos, exhibitors, panel discussions, poetry readings, live music and assortment of food, beer and wine. Best of all it is free. The dates are September 26-28th. For more information, call 1877-BALTIMORE, or visit www.baltimorebookfestival.org.

Well my dear friends, I am out of space and out of time, remember if you need me, call me at 410-833-9474 or email me at rosapryor@aol.com.


Comcast kicks off fourth year of Internet Essentials

— Comcast continues to make significant strides in closing the digital divide. On September 22, 2014, Comcast hosted a special event at Digital Harbor Foundation (DHF) in Baltimore to announce the extension of its Internet Essentials promotion and awarded 55 computers and six months of complimentary service to students attending the event from Digital Harbor High School and Liberty Elementary School.

Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen addresses students from Digital Harbor High School and Liberty Elementary School during a special event to announce the extension of its Internet Essentials Program on Monday, September 22, 2014 at Digital Harbor Foundation in Baltimore.

(Courtesy Photo/Comcast)

Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen addresses students from Digital Harbor High School and Liberty Elementary School during a special event to announce the extension of its Internet Essentials Program on Monday, September 22, 2014 at Digital Harbor Foundation in Baltimore.

“Internet Essentials is about transforming lives and inspiring a new generation of leaders to be digitally ready to access the information and tools all students need to succeed in the 21st century,” said Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen.

Internet Essentials from Comcast is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program. It provides low-cost broadband service for $9.95 a month plus tax; the option to purchase an Internet-ready computer for under $150, and multiple options to access free digital literacy training in print, online and in-person.

Since 2011, Internet Essentials has connected more than 350,000 families, or about 1.4 million low-income Americans, to the power of the Internet, including more than 7,400 families, or about 29,700 low-income residents in Maryland. The program is available in 39 states and the District of Columbia.

The event, which was held at Digital Harbor Foundation located at 1045 Light Street in Baltimore, also sought to raise awareness about the importance of closing the digital divide and kicked off the fourth year of Internet Essentials. Comcast also announced the extension of the Internet Essentials promotion, which offers six months of complimentary service to eligible families who apply before September 30, 2014.

“It’s exhilarating to see what kids are capable of accomplishing if they have the basic tools,” said Cohen. “Many of these kids were not able to work on projects at home, but they now have a free computer. This was an amazing event, but the real stars are the students.” Throughout the back-to-school season, Comcast will actively engage with parents, teachers, non-profit partners and elected officials to help spread the word to low-income families about the program.

Additionally, Comcast recently announced an amnesty program for certain low-income families who could qualify for Internet Essentials, but have a past due balance. Comcast will offer amnesty for that debt for the purpose of connecting to Internet Essentials, so long as the customer meets all the other eligibility criteria.

“We are beginning to make a difference in closing the digital divide,” said Cohen. “But we also realize we have a lot more eligible people we need to get signed up. We want everyone to know about this program and to take advantage of it. We are discussing how to expand eligibility, and are concentrating on extending the reach of the program to eligible individuals with school age children.”

Governor Martin O’Malley, and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake were also in attendance.

“I’m pleased to join Comcast today in this ongoing effort to overcome barriers to broadband adoption in Maryland and throughout the country,” said Governor O’Malley.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake, added, “By connecting the city’s low-income residents to the Internet at home, Comcast is providing families with a tool crucial for success in the modern workforce.”

Andrew Coy is the Executive Director of Digital Harbor Foundation (DHF), which fosters innovation, tech advancement, and entrepreneurship by helping youth develop digital age skills.

“The internet is an essential tool in every aspect of our lives,” said Coy. “It is a tool that is so basic in terms of how people access information and share it with others. I don’t see an achievement gap, but an opportunity gap. Where’s there a lot more opportunity, there is much more achievement. This partnership is all about providing more opportunities.”

Brian Eyer, principal of Digital Harbor High School, noted how the program advances the school’s purpose. “The mission of Digital Harbor High School is to prepare students for computer technology careers, college and productive citizenship,” said Eyer. “This partnership with Comcast allows us to provide free Internet for our students, which gives them the ability to work on their projects at home. This is a great advantage for our kids.”

During the event, Comcast also highlighted the latest Internet Essentials milestones and program enhancements. Since its launch in 2011 to the end of June 2014, these achievements include selling nearly 30,000 subsidized computers at less than $150 each and offering Internet Essentials in more than 30,000 schools and 4,000 school districts.

For more information, including eligibility requirements, or to apply for the program, visit: www.InternetEssentials.com or call 1-855-846-8376, or for Spanish, visit: www.InternetBasico.com or call 1-855-765-6995.

Howard County Cybersecurity Academy students mentored by experts

Last week 20 students from Howard County Public School System’s Cybersecurity Networking Academy got a special treat when Firoozeh Azarbaidjani-Do, co-founder and CEO of Phoenix TS, the internationally acclaimed and award-winning computer training solution provider, welcomed them to a cybersecurity mentoring program. The three-hour cybersecurity training session was led by Claude Williams, expert cyber specialist at Phoenix TS.

“During their three hour session with our team,” said Azarbaidjani-Do, “the students learned about Cryptography Basics, Encryption Basics and Protocols, and they were presented with scenarios and real-world situations that required the application of learned security concepts and techniques. The training was reinforced with an encryption challenge that tested students on specific encryption techniques learned during the session.”

The students from Howard County’s Cybersecurity Networking Academy are taught by Vipul Savalia. The Academy is designed for students who have an interest in expanding their knowledge and skills related to computer hardware, software, operating systems, fundamental and advanced networking, and cybersecurity related threats and mitigation techniques. Students gain practical hands-on experience in these fields and demonstrate their ability to analyze cyber threats by using networking devices, simulation tools, software and competitions. These courses prepare students to obtain a wide variety of industry recognized IT certifications.

On hand for the training session Savalia said, “Cybersecurity is an incredibly important feature of our modern age. A day doesn’t go by without more evidence that in order to be productive and to improve our lives, we have to protect our computers, which are the lifeblood of nearly every facet of our existence.”

He continued, “These students are our future and they are demonstrating their eagerness and commitment by participating in a variety of educational opportunities, such as this mentoring program. We are creating the next generation of cyber professionals and this mentoring plays a role in achieving this goal.”

Also attending were Howard County Public School System Deputy Superintendent Linda T. Wise and Howard County Board of Education member Sandra French. After the session, Deputy Superintendent Wise and Azarbaidjani-Do awarded the students Certificates of Recognition for their accomplishment.

“The Howard County Public School System has a deep and long term commitment to providing our students with a world-class education, said Deputy Superintendent Wise. “We’re incredibly proud of our Career Academy programs, of which the Cybersecurity Networking Academy is just one. Students in the academies have the ability to earn industry certifications that give them the opportunity to obtain employment while they continue their education.”

“For example, students in the Cybersecurity Networking Academy can leave high school as a Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT). Thanks to partners like Phoenix TS, they also have the opportunity to network with professionals in the field. We are very grateful to our neighbor, Phoenix TS, for the commitment they are showing to our students, and to their futures.”

Founded in 1998, Phoenix TS provides quality customized and off-the-shelf, instructor-led technical and end-user training services around the world. The company’s management has utilized its more than 30 years of combined experience in training and consulting to provide organizations like DISA, the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force with the most effective training possible.

The company’s instructors have also successfully trained more than 80,000 professionals from nearly every government agency and commercial organization, along with government agencies in foreign countries such as Korea and Germany.

Jayne Matthews Hopson writes each week about educational matters because, “Only the educated are free.”