Perseverance is a quality that can easily be attributed to FastForward graduate, Natalie. Four weeks before the birth of her first child, she and her husband were in a car accident that would change their lives forever. They both survived the accident, but her husband Joey sustained permanent nerve damage and the inability to walk without support.
Niehaus was faced caring for her newborn baby and husband on his road to recovery.
“I learned how to budget our expenses, balance my husband’s needs alongside that of my son’s and worked full time,” she said. “I rarely slept, I rarely ate. But life didn’t stop. Bills still had to get paid. So, there was no option for me, I had to work and work hard.”
She began a career in retail, actively seeking promotions to become more stable in supporting her family. Niehaus saw potential in pursuing a career in the field of Information Technology. She stated in her application, “Obtaining a job in the IT industry has promising career potential in a world that is quickly becoming unstable.”
In 2018, Niehaus was accepted into Central Virginia Community College’s IT Helpdesk Technician FastForward Training Program. Her husband, Joey, was also accepted into the same program.
The Niehauses were the first married couple to participate in training that would prepare them for new careers together. Both of their tuition was supported by FastForward and other financial assistance.
“My husband and I would not have been able to participate in the program without tuition support through these grants. I literally would not be where I am today without that financial assistance,” she said.
Niehaus has earned her Comp Tia A+ Certification and is now employed as IT Inventory Specialist Tier I for Liberty University, one of the largest IT operation centers in Central Virginia.
“This has been my favorite job as far as having opportunities to learn,” she said. “IT is a puzzle that you have to solve every day and I really enjoy the challenge. Our department has opportunities for advancement that require having the Comp Tia A+ certification. Being certified will open doors for me in the future.”