Student Gains Certifications, Wins NetRiders, and Joins Cisco

Maria was studying for two college majors when her dean suggested specializing in networks. After winning the NetRiders competition, her skills and dedication helped her secure a position at Cisco.

Maria Del Pilar Munoz was pursuing majors in both computer science and electronics at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia, when she received some helpful advice from her dean. “He asked me why I was studying two majors and what my interest was in each one,” she recalls. “After a long talk, we concluded that I was more devoted to computer science and the most interesting part of electronics for me was networking. He recommended enrolling in the Cisco Networking Academy program and focusing on computer sciences for my undergraduate studies.”

Munoz excelled in her courses and quickly earned her Cisco CCNA , CCAI, CCDA , CCNP , and CCDP certifications, with plans to earn her Cisco CCIE certification. One of her most memorable achievements was winning first place at the 2003 Colombia NetRiders competition. “It was the first NetRiders in Colombia and it was dominated by women,” says Munoz. “There were three women and 18 men, and all three women won an award.” As the top contender, Munoz won a trip to visit Cisco headquarters in San Jose .

Winning NetRiders also helped Munoz advance her career. “It gave me the opportunity to be in contact with people from the local Cisco office, so once a vacancy opened, they called me,” she explains. “When I started at Cisco four years ago as an associate systems engineer, I was responsible for the office lab and demos. Now I’m a Cisco consulting systems engineer for the business video group, covering Latin America from Mexico to Brazil.”

Munoz is actively involved in helping women enter the ICT field in Colombia. “I was invited to participate in a discussion forum about women and technology, and it felt really good to share my story with other girls and address some of their concerns about a career path in technology,” she explains.

Munoz has also maintained a strong relationship with the Networking Academy program and NetRiders. In addition to teaching at an academy, she’s been invited to help organize NetRiders several times and assisted with preparing challenges, selecting the jury, and promoting the competition."The most rewarding thing for me was having high school students in the competition," she says. "It was amazing to see these students presenting their networking designs and participating in the troubleshooting challenges with incredible confidence. At that moment, I felt proud of our Cisco academies.”