Tech program launches non-traditional students in metro into new careers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- On Wednesday night, a huge crowd packed Union Station’s City Stage Theater in Kansas City for a special celebration.

“We’re really excited,” 28-year-old Brandy Hulett said.

“LaunchCode has really changed my life in ways I can’t imagine,” Kelly Winzer said.

Two years ago, LaunchCode, a national nonprofit, expanded to Kansas City. Organizers say their 20-week training opens doors for non-traditional students like Hulett and Winzer -- people who want to become program designers, web designers and other professionals in the tech industry.

“I really liked its message: 'If you can do the job, you should get the job,'” Hulett said.

“The hardest part for me really was to balance caring for my seven kids and help take care of my husband after he was injured while serving in Iraq in 2007. After the turn for the better for our family, I wanted to do something for myself and start a career in the tech industry,” Winzer said.

Winzer, Hulett and more than 50 classmates successfully completed the program and received their certificates Wednesday. Winzer has also been named the program’s director.

“Yeah, technically they call me now the program’s candidate engagement manager, so that’s exciting," Winzer said. "It’s really a good program. I started actually coding and really diving into it about two months before the program started."

“A lot of times with the programming jobs, they’re always looking for computer science degrees, and I just didn’t want to back to school with the money, and trying this was accessible for me. I’m excited about my future," Hulett said.

Another LaunchCode program is set to get under way this summer. For more information, visit the program's website.