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Daily CSR
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Debbie Gomez: From Texas Mom to Cisco Dream Team via Networking Academy


During Hispanic Heritage Month, we honor all the students and alumni from these communities who have become part of ours through the IT skills-to-jobs program of Cisco Networking Academy. One such individual is Debbie Gomez, who is enthusiastically spreading her love for technology in her communities. As the founder of the Women Rock-IT Program of Networking Academy, I am delighted to share the influence of this program on individuals like Debbie and the subsequent impact they have on their communities.
Debbie Gomez, a native Texan and mother of three, transitioned from full-time parenting to studying at Collin County Community College. Despite what one might expect, this was not a step back for Debbie. Helping others and getting involved is in her nature. As a student, she spent her summers in Mexico, learning Spanish from local children while teaching them English.
When she enrolled in college, she fully committed herself. She chose IT as her major because she had heard about the growing need for cybersecurity professionals. “I’m not looking for a job, I’m looking for a career,” she states. Initially, she started as a cybersecurity major at Collin College but after attending some NetAcad classes, she discovered her passion for routers and switches—the blinking lights—and switched her major to computer networking.
In her first semester, she attended Women Rock-IT where she met many women working in the industry. She was particularly attracted to their ability to travel and work simultaneously. Another appealing aspect of networking—and the Academy Program—was the practical experience it provided.
“Cybersecurity at Collin is more theoretical, and I was looking for more technical,” she said. “When I was able to play around with the switches, how to patch cables, all of that got my attention…and there’s a lot of security involved in computer networking as well, it’s almost like the gatekeeper, so that’s what I really enjoyed.”

Debbie shares that she’s not the only one who transitioned from the four-year Cybersecurity Bachelor’s Degree course at Collin to the two-year Computer Networking Associate’s Degree. She has even advocated for the college to extend the Bachelor’s program to encompass computer networking. She hopes the college will implement this change, even though it would occur after her graduation. “It would be my legacy,” she states.
This wouldn’t be her only contribution at Collin.
When Debbie began IT Essentials, she noticed that many participants had prior experience that she didn’t have. “Almost everyone who starts in tech has some kind of technology background,” she observes.
Most of them had probably built a computer before, but she hadn’t. She had never even opened a computer before. To keep up with the class and spend more time on the equipment, she decided she needed something to experiment with at home. She posted a request on her neighborhood app asking for any equipment donations. “I didn’t care if it worked or not, I just needed to dismantle it.”
She received an overwhelming response, with many IT professionals donating switches, routers, wireless access points, and more.
Patrick Evans, Discipline Lead – Computer Networking Program at Collin County Community College, suggests that the response was likely so substantial because the Dallas area is a tech hub, home to many well-known tech companies and even a large Cisco Customer Experience Center on the same street as one of the Collin College campuses.
Starting with the equipment in her garage, Debbie invited classmates to collaborate and eventually established the Computer Science and Engineering Club under Professor Evans’ encouragement.
The club provides a platform for mentorship and networking and has grown more popular than Debbie could have ever anticipated. “I’ve never led a club before, we started very small, it was just like five members,” she recalls. Now with over 200 current members, “we’re the biggest club right now in the IT center—we keep growing!”
In addition to managing her family, studying, running the club, and undertaking a couple of internships, Debbie was also part of the Dream Team at Cisco Live in Las Vegas in June 2023.
The Dream Team is composed of five Networking Academy students chosen from across the Americas to work alongside Cisco engineers in setting up and maintaining the network at the event.
“It was awesome to learn from the network engineers,” she said. “I’m so glad that Professor Evans taught me how to patch cables…it came in handy, because the other Dream Teamers had never done that before. So I ended up showing them how to put an RG45 on a cable!”
“It was amazing,” she said. “It was one of the best times of my life. It was meeting a lot of people, meeting a lot of Cisco executives, learning from them, helping set up the network…it was very exhausting, but it was totally worth it.”
In addition to her numerous commitments, Debbie has also completed the preliminary phase of the Cisco CX Apprenticeship Program. She has earned the necessary CCNA certification and is currently self-studying for the DevNet certification. The DevNet certification is a requirement for the second part of the program, which involves six months of full-time paid work as a Technical Consulting Engineer within Cisco’s Customer Experience organization. “My dream job is to work for Cisco,” she declares.

Meanwhile, she is preparing to take her final class, CCNP, at Collin College before graduating in Spring 2024.

If Debbie’s extensive involvement in various activities since resuming her studies seems daunting, she brushes it off with a casual remark: “I’m from Texas,” she states, “go big or go home!”