Thad Riggle: I’m currently a Cloud Support Engineer for Amazon Web Services (AWS) which involves supporting companies with their efforts in running their infrastructure on AWS. I specialize in our RDS (Relational Database Services), which provides databases such as Oracle®, Microsoft® SQL Server, and others with minimal management on the customer's side. I was recently certified as an AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate with plans for becoming certified at the Professional level. I also belong to PASS (Professional Association for SQL Server).
Thad: South Hills taught me all of the basics of working on many different technologies within the IT sphere, and also many other non-technical skills such as communication, management, and networking that are needed to succeed in any career. The SQL skills I learned in class helped me to qualify for a job that I applied for and was offered at my internship site.
Thad: My internship position (a required part of all specialized associate degree programs at South Hills) was as a software programmer with Sheetz, Inc. corporate office in Altoona, PA I was assigned a project to port a few legacy software programs from python™, a programming language, to Perl. I was also tasked with creating a software program that could calculate fuel flow rates at the pumps in every Sheetz store. This small project that I worked on as an intern is now used company-wide and is still being expanded upon today.
Near the end of my internship, I noticed that Sheetz had listed an opening for a Junior Database Administrator on their job board and I applied for the job. I was hired and started the position before graduation and continued to work there for 4.5 years. Eventually, I worked my way into administrating of most of their database platforms and was involved in most IT projects on the corporate side from conception to implementation and then support after implementation.
After Sheetz, I had a brief stint at BNY Mellon in Pittsburgh, and shortly after starting there was recruited for my position at Amazon Web Services.
Thad: Never stop learning and don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone! This is commonly said by many professionals and seems cliché to say; but, this advice is invaluable. Showing that you are willing to learn and take on new/added responsibility that a lot of people are afraid of, and can really set you apart from other candidates.
Thad: If I could describe South Hills in three words, I’d choose, “Fun, rewarding, and crazy.” My time at South Hills was extremely fun and was very rewarding as it lead to all of the opportunities that I have had today. “Crazy” is for the friends I made while I was there, which I would not trade for anything in the world.
Thad: The most valuable lesson I learned is to be constantly be learning about whatever field that you are in. Especially with technology, since the field is so fast-paced. Also, don't be afraid to take chances and learn things that may be outside of your comfort zone. I originally wanted to be a programmer, but would not change my career path looking back on things. If I did not branch outside of programming, I would definitely not be where I am today.
Thad: My favorite South Hills class was definitely “Ethical Hacking.” It was so fun to see and learn about how companies are breached by things that aren't really technology-based such as social engineering, especially with how common breaches seem to be today. This class was also very challenging for me as everything I learned it in was so outside of my wheelhouse of knowledge, but it was all very fascinating.
Kari Schlegel was born in March 1992 and graduated from South Hills in September 2012.
The Kari Lynn Schlegel Memorial Gallery is named in memory of Kari Schlegel, a lifelong Bellefonte resident and 2012 graduate of the Graphic Arts program at South Hills.
Kari was often the exclamation point in any story about the Class of 2012. Her effervescent good mood, enthusiasm, and seemingly endless supply of optimism and positive spirit was infusive, lighting up the classroom.
Kari (right) is shown with her beloved sister, Mindy.
Her classmates still laugh at the memory of Kari wearing her bunny slippers on the Graphic Arts field trip to New York City. Groan-worthy puns and jokes? Kari had a volume of them. She delighted in sharing stories and photos of her four beloved cats as well as trivia and tales of Harry Potter and Disney World. She was a rare combination of innocence, maturity, trust, and hope. She was filled with a joy of life and an unconditional love for her friends, her family, her pets… and people she just met. That was Kari Schlegel.
Kari dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow for the South Hills “BooFest” Halloween party in 2012.
She loved her school, even coming back to audit several GA classes after graduating. Kari also particularly enjoyed returning to South Hills every summer to perform as part of the Music Picnic Series with the Bellefonte Community Band.
Kari died December 15, 2016, in a tragic automobile accident. It’s a loss everyone who knew her still feels. In the end, Kari truly lived her life with passion and joy, treating others as she wanted to be treated: with love, compassion, and respect.