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Destination z Scholarship Winners: Where Are They Now?

By Destination Z posted Mon December 23, 2019 03:30 PM


The IBM Destination z Enterprise Computing Scholarship program is designed to help further the professional goals of the next generation of mainframe professionals. Each year, applicants are selected to receive funding to assist with their enterprise computing coursework and other aspects of their mainframe journies.

With the 2018 Destination z Scholarship on the horizon, Destination z thought it would be a good time to catch up with some past scholarship winners to see where their mainframe journey has led them, and how the Destination z Scholarship affected their lives. So, where are they now?

Jeremy DeLosSantos

Although 2016 Destination z Scholarship winner Jeremy DeLosSantos doesn’t currently work on the mainframe, the Destination z Scholarship helped him complete his academic journey. “Without the scholarships that I received, I would not have been able to complete my degree,” he says. DeLosSantos hopes to work in mainframe eventually, but even with little mainframe work in Amarillo, Texas, he found solid employment as a programmer analyst in web services and he’s very thankful for the position that he received.

Phil Grabowski

Phil Grabowski, a winner of the 2015 Destination z Scholarship, is currently a full-time faculty member at Pittsburgh Technical College, and he’s also an IBM Z Champion. He recently conducted a Legends of Z event at Pittsburgh Technical College as a hackathon, and will soon receive a facilitator badge. One of his classes was required to participate in the 2018 Master the Mainframe event, but Grabowski also encouraged others to participate for extra credit. Grabowski has had work published in several publications as well, including CyberDefense Magazine and IN West Allegheny Magazine. Much of his work focuses on Master the Mainframe and the IBM Z Academic Initiative.

Jenna-Shae Harris

Since 2015, when Jenna-Shae Harris received the Destination z Scholarship, she’s completed her master’s degree in Information Systems and Business Analytics from Marist College in May of 2017. Shortly after completing her degree, she started a new position at SAS Institute as a systems developer. As a systems developer, her responsibilities consist of implementing enterprise software installations. She also manages, diagnoses, debugs, designs and prototypes SAS and third-party enterprise-class software systems.

Harris is very grateful to have received the Destination z Scholarship. “I’m honored to be one of the 2015 recipients of the Destination z Scholarship. My lifelong dream of completing graduate school is complete, thanks to generous scholarships like this one,” she says. “Without scholarships willing to support educations, students such as myself would be unable to pursue advanced IT degrees.”

The Destination z Scholarship helped Harris earn her master’s degree as well as a certificate in Business Analytics, which requires special training and coursework.

Derek Garrity

Derek Garrity, a recipient of the 2015 Destination z Scholarship, is currently working at Compuware in Detroit as a software developer. He was initially on the team responsible for developing the common software for the rest of Compuware’s products (known as Enterprise Common Components). More specifically, Garrity worked on what is known as the Host Communication Interface. He has since been transferred to a new team developing Compuware’s source control management software, called ISPW.

The Destination z Scholarship helped Garrity get through his schooling. “Without the Destination z Scholarship, as well as other scholarships and financial aid I have received, I would not have been able to finish school,” he says. “Although my school was not entirely paid for by scholarships, I didn’t have much time to work during college, so I wouldn’t have been able to pay for my college had it not been for the scholarships I did receive.”

Garrity also emphasizes the benefits of scholarships in general when it comes to students’ wellbeing. “I think scholarship programs are very beneficial because they allow students to focus entirely on schooling without worrying about work,” he says. “I was able to achieve a 3.9 GPA in college because of this. I would like to say thank you to IBM Destination Z for providing me with the opportunity to make a better future for myself!”