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Highlander grad says coding class helped provide focus for her future

Rosharra Owens

(Photo: Rosharra Owens at Iowa Western Community College, May 9, 2018.)

COUNCIL BLUFFS – For Rosharra Owens, learning to build websites was part of rebuilding her life after a series of unfortunate events left her living in a homeless shelter, and feeling stuck.

“It was crazy. I don’t know how I’ve been able to do it, but I’ve been able to do it,” she says.

Rosharra was living at Omaha’s Open Door Mission when she saw fliers for the Interface Web School/Highlander Seventy Five North Code Camp.

“I didn’t think I was ever going to get in school. I didn’t think there was any hope,” she said.

But she started making phone calls, and ended up at Heartland Workforce Solutions, where they helped her apply for the course and arrange financial aid.

“They were excellent at helping get the paperwork pushed though,” she recalls.

Once the class got underway, Rosharra found a small class size, and a lot of individual attention from the instructor.

“She went through things that I didn’t understand, but I could ask her, and we could go over it, especially since it was the three of us,” she recalls.

Rosharra Owens in class

(Rosharra Owens in class with instructor Lana Yager.)

Rosharra says she loved learning to build the look and feel of a website.

“I love the whole idea of designing, I was really thrilled about that, and since it was a small class, it was a lot of fun,” she says.

Rosharra says the class could definitely be challenging at times.

“Anything you don’t really know can be a challenge, especially in IT. There’s a lot of coding, a lot of things to remember, you definitely need to practice, to look over the stuff,” she says. “It takes time and you make mistakes, but slowly I was getting it, getting the hang of it.”

Rosharra says the great thing  about the course was that it involved real-world examples of web-building exercises.

“That’s the main thing I loved about the class, it was all majority hands-on. We did maybe a half-hour lecture, but the rest of the class, we worked on building a website, buttons, containers, it was nice,” she says.

‘It’s really how I got my start.’

As Rosharra was nearing the completion of the 10-week course, she realized she wanted to continue her education. She applied to and enrolled in Iowa Western Community College, where she just completed 12 credit hours.

One of her courses was Introduction to Web Design, and she says her experience at Interface/Highlander was a big help.

She now hopes to earn an Associates Degree in Media Production, and eventually pursue a career in filmmaking.

Rosharra credits the Interface/Highlander course with jump starting her education, and giving her the confidence to succeed.

“It was a great opportunity. Starting there is what got me here. I wanna do so much more. It’s really how I got my start,” she says.

For anyone who is thinking about going to back to school or changing careers, Rosharra says to stay focused, and have faith.

“Don’t look at what everyone else is doing because that can be very frustrating, when you see everyone else picking the pace up, it can really bring down your self esteem. You just sort of have to tune out what everyone else is doing and just keep your focus on what’s in front of you,” she says.

For more information on the Interface/75 North Highlander program, click here.