Rider High School Sophomore Nabs World Title as the Youngest to Land Three Industry-standard IT Certifications
Rider High School Sophomore Nabs World Title as Youngest to Land Three Industry-standard IT Certifications
At 15 years old, Jallen Lane Arocho set a goal to earn three professional Information Technology certifications before he turned 16. That gave him until his birthday -- June 16, 2018 -- to make it happen
Jallen Lane Arocho
He did it.
At 15 years old, Rider High School sophomore Jallen Lane Arocho succeeded in becoming the youngest person in the world to earn three industry-standard certifications for entry-level computer technicians.
He already was America’s youngest to earn his first CompTIA A+ certification. The IT Fundamentals professional certification is difficult for many trained adult technicians in the computer industry to earn. However, he earned that all on his own – and just because he wanted to – by studying throughout the 2017 summer, testing for it and passing Sept. 11, 2017.
The hardest part about doing it, he said, was overcoming the negativity of people who told him he couldn’t do it.
That achievement ranked him as not only America’s youngest to earn it but also put him as the world’s third-youngest person to achieve such a feat, according to a Google search done by his teacher Brian Bass.
But, as Jallen said then, he was not done setting records.
He had learned of one 16-year-old girl somewhere in the world who held two of the industry-standard CompTIA certifications. “And I want to beat her,” he said then. That meant he must earn a second certification, the CompTIA IT A+ certification, to catch up to her, then a third certification, the CompTIA Security +, to beat her.
And he must do it before he turned 16 on June 16, 2018.
And so began months of intense study. “I missed so many parties and going out with my friends,” said Jallen. “I was dedicated. It was NOT easy.”
He took the second test, the CompTIA IT A+, on Oct. 13, 2017. He passed it, like the first test, on his first go.
But the greatest challenge still lay ahead. To study for the CompTIA Security + certification, he took five online courses to help him prepare, then sat through 13 hours of videos to familiarize himself with the material the test covers.
The hour-and-a-half test includes performance-based questions that give test-takers a task and require completion within a limited amount of time.
Then he took – and failed -- the test twice, at a cost of $350 per test.
“The first one, I was nowhere close,” he said. “So I really, really pushed it. The second time, I was only a couple points behind.”
His mom had paid for the first two tests. She had occasionally urged him to pull himself away from the video games and study harder to be as prepared as possible for each administration. But when he didn’t pass the second time, she told him to finance the third $350 test fee on his own.
At first, he was crestfallen. “I want to beat the record,” he told his mom. She stood her ground.
Then, another problem: Sitting for the test became a challenge when he learned that Midwestern State University, where he usually took his tests, was closed on test day.
He learned that he could test in several other cities, but his mother refused to drive so far. So he did more research and learned that, since his family had been in the Air Force, he could test at Sheppard Air Force Base.
To finance the test, he dipped into the money he’d made from investing in cryptocurrencies.
He sat for the third administration of his third certification May 24. He passed this one “with flying colors,” he said.
And he did it with 23 days to spare before he turned 16.
How does it feel to be the world’s youngest at such a complicated feat?
“I try to not let it go to my head,” he said. “I have bigger goals in mind. I don’t want to get too satisfied with what I have.”
Those “bigger goals” include starting his own business so that he can help others. He also wants to build a charity and create a legacy of scholarships. He’d like to help fund certifications for other advanced IT students who might not be able to afford them on their own.
Actually, the business he wants to start is already up and running in Wichita Falls. Through Prodigy IT, Jallen serves customers who need computer repairs, virus removals, or WIFI hook-ups. He also designs and assembles computers for customers who want one customized just for them.
Jallen is spending the summer advertising his business.
His mother isn’t surprised at his success. “Jay is the type of kid who says, ‘I’m going to do something,’ and he gets fixated on that, and he works for it,” she said.
This accomplishment is meaningful, said WFISD Information Technology teacher David White. It reflects proficiency in professional skills and knowledge. “It’s not an easy exam. It’s an impressive feat that he’s already earned the certifications he has,” said Mr. White. “Per CompTIA, ‘CompTIA Security + is an international, vendor-neutral certification that validates the baseline skills necessary to perform core security functions and pursue an IT security career.’”
That means he knows his stuff.
So what does it mean to Jallen’s future? “All of these certifications will be a springboard for any networking or information technology job or to advance his studies at the post-secondary level,” said Mr. White.
Interestingly, as Jallen heads into his junior year at Rider High School this fall, he isn’t planning on going to college. The certifications he’s earned already speak to his expertise more than a college degree would – a peculiarity of his industry, he said.
As a junior at Rider High School this fall, he will be the only student taking Computer Networking 2. The certifications he’s earned has already allowed him to circumvent Computer Networking 1.
But Jallen is not done goal-setting. He’s focused now on a fourth certification. This one will testify to his 10 years of on-the-job experience – a nod to the interest he’s had in the cybersecurity field and in computers since he was a child.
“Having that at 18 will be more impressive than having a college degree at 21,” he said.