Four Moraine Valley Community College students were chosen from a competitive application process to participate in two high-profile Cisco events working behind the scenes.

Cisco, the world leader in IT and networking, partners with the NBA and all its events around the world. Justin Valentino, Moraine Valley Local Area Networks instructor, was contacted by Cisco in search of students to be part of the “Dream Team” to help set up and run the networking system at the NBA Draft Combine held in Chicago for one week in May. He submitted the names of several Moraine Valley students, who take Cisco Networking Academy courses at the college, who joined a pool of candidates across Illinois. Only five students were chosen, based on their certification skill level, and two were from Moraine Valley.

The NBA Dream Team, which Valentino mentored, worked together setting up and running the network every day at three locations—InterContinental Chicago hotel, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Quest Multisport complex. They managed the network while ESPN was broadcasting this event, which measures and tests the skills of young basketball players across the world who aspire to play in the NBA.

“Our students were finishing tasks too quickly,” laughed Valentino. “They completed everything early. But the week went well.”

Anne Crisman (Chicago) and Roger Benda (Palos Heights) were on this Dream Team.

“Being selected to be a part of this team was very exciting as it was an opportunity to use that high tech equipment you don’t see every day,” Benda said. “It was a good test to see how well I and the other nominees could adapt to an ongoing project with high stakes involved as well as having fun in the process.”

Two additional students are heading to Las Vegas in late June for Cisco Live, an annual conference that delivers training, education and connections in the digital business world to up to 40,000 attendees. This student dream team of 12 was selected based on an application process that included a recommendation, two-minute video of why they should be chosen and resume. Of the applicants across the U.S. and Canada, two Moraine Valley students—Christy Turner (Oak Lawn) and Jason Czarnik (Palos Hills)—earned the honor.

Valentino also will lead this group through 13-hour days of setting up computer networking and wireless through multiple buildings. They’ll also meet with current Cisco employees, including the CEO. In both instances, the student groups assist the Cisco technology team.

“This is an awesome experience for students regarding tech installs as well as networking with upper management,” Valentino said. “It’s a really big deal.”

“The dream team allows dedicated students to attend the conference and see what it’s all about. We will be putting our learned skills to use. I expect to gain practical experience during the conference while working on implementing and maintaining the network,” Turner said. “I feel honored to have been chosen for this opportunity, and I’m incredibly excited! This is definitely a once in a lifetime experience. I will do my best to represent Moraine Valley and fellow women in technology while attending.”