CISS Program at STLCC Provides Encouraging Future for Students

By on November 8, 2018
Daisie Botelho CISS Graduate

Before Daisie Botelho joined the accelerated Computer Information Support Specialist (CISS) program at St. Louis Community College, she had nearly given up. Needing to support her family, she recognized the opportunity in front of her and dove into the fast-track class with new growth and opportunity in her sights. Within three quick months, she is now soaking in the accomplishment of multiple Microsoft Office certifications, new customer service skills for her résumé and new interviewing techniques for her personal tool belt.

And importantly, she has gained confidence.

The CISS program, offered through STLCC’s Workforce Solutions Group, prepares students for office and customer service roles. The 12-week accelerated program spans financial literacy; cybersecurity; customer service; work ethic; career development; and the Microsoft Office products Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.

The program begins with basic lessons, such as how to create a spreadsheet and enter data, then dives into more advanced concepts—for instance, functions, formulas and automations in Microsoft Excel,— teaching students ways to efficiently process, analyze and present financial and qualitative data.

“I thought I knew Microsoft when I started. I realized I didn’t know even ten percent of what was there,” says Botelho.

Instructor Keith Turner explains that knowing Excel means a lot of different things to different people. STLCC includes certifications in the program because employers recognize them as signals of competence and efficiency. For finance, in particular, this could include developed functions of Microsoft products such as future or present values, calculations, charting and graphs. The class is also designed for individuals who are interested in working in an office environment in administration, management or even IT and healthcare.

Turner calls the program a tool for the community. “The components of the program have helped a tremendous number of people get jobs and recommit to themselves and feel empowered,” he said.

For Botelho, the program has not only given her the necessary skills to start her job search, but it has given her the confidence needed to apply and interview for jobs. “For the first time in four years I feel like I can do something. I will do something, and I’m moving forward with it,” she said.

“By going into this program, we’re giving students the necessary skills and tools they need so they can go into an employer and immediately begin contributing,” said Cassandra Brown, program instructor.

The next CISS cohort begins November 26, 2018 and will meet for 12 weeks, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the STLCC Forest Park campus. The program is eligible for funding under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), SkillUp and MWA. To learn more and begin your application process, visit

The CISS program graduated its first group of students on Thursday November 1, 2018. All graduates received Microsoft Office Specialist Certifications in Word and Excel, and many of them also received certificates in PowerPoint and Outlook. These graduates have expressed how they bonded with their fellow classmates and became a real team leaning on and supporting each other throughout the training.

Nov. 1, 2018 graduates of STLCC’s CISS program.

Nov. 1, 2018 graduates of STLCC’s CISS program. Top row, left to right: Kelly Warren, Wesley McKinney, Nancy Lake. Bottom row, left to right: Janice Koontz, Daisie Botelho.

About Lysa Young-Bates

Lysa Young-Bates is Marketing Communications Manager of St. Louis Community College’s Workforce Solutions Group, which delivers non-credit continuing education opportunities, corporate training and community services to the St. Louis region.

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