Thanks to Red Hat, Inc., the world’s leading provider of open-source solutions, College of Charleston senior Isaiah Stapleton has a full-time job waiting when he graduates in May 2023 with a degree in computer science and a minor in data science. Stapleton participated in a long-term internship program at Red Hat, which has engaged students from the College for years.

Stapleton’s journey on this path began freshman year when he enrolled in a First Year Experience (FYE) cybersecurity class taught by Lancie Affonso ’96, Honors College faculty fellow and senior instructor in computer science and management and marketing. Affonso, who is also the director of the Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community (E-LLC), quickly noticed Stapleton’s potential and encouraged him to attend the fall career fair on campus, which led to a job in the Department of Computer Science.

“Isaiah’s passion for self-improvement and sharing his knowledge via peer mentoring was evident from the first week in our FYE class, From Russia with Code: Cybersecurity and Russian,” says Affonso. “Since his freshmen year, he has leveraged many of the experiential learning opportunities available to our students. Isaiah has served as a terrific peer mentor as well as a computer science and School of Sciences and Mathematics student ambassador. He was also instrumental in helping us relaunch the free Red Hat Academy learning opportunities for CofC students.”

Red Hat Academy partners with academic institutions around the world to provide the next generation of IT talent with free access to a range of Red Hat’s training courses and certification exams. Stapleton completed training at Red Hat during his internship and was a strong advocate for the College to begin offering and promoting these free resources to computer science students.

“When I first started at Red Hat, what interested me about open-source research is the great deal of collaboration between diverse individuals,” says Stapleton. “After the first few months, I started to really see the power and impact of open source. Open source fosters a sense of community and collaboration that draws individuals from all over the world with unique backgrounds.”

For Stapleton, the College’s computer science program’s wholistic approach prepared him well for the future.

“The program is a perfect mix of soft and technical skills, which has given me the skills to make me a more qualified candidate,” he says.

Stapleton continued to use these skills during his internship, taking full advantage of everything that came his way, says his mentor, Shamair Faison, technical project manager at Red Hat.

“Isaiah is an exemplary mentee, student and intern,” says Faison. “He took initiative regarding his Red Hat assignments and long-term goals. He also networked with individuals within Red Hat, which helped establish him as a leader. Isaiah was able to accept and implement the feedback he received during his internship. I have witnessed Isaiah’s growth during our mentorship period, and I am exceedingly proud of him.”

When he graduates in May, Stapleton looks forward to relocating to the company’s offices in Boston, Massachusetts, where he’ll pursue an advanced degree at Boston University while officially launching his career at Red Hat.

“I now believe open source is the future and I’m interested in creating software solutions that positively impact people’s lives,” he says. “With open source, we can solve real issues in our communities while innovating, collaborating and growing together.”