Alumni Profile: Reigniting a passion for IT leads to career success
Friday, March 30, 2018
Written by: Lauren Leetun for Seminole State
Harry Ellis never planned to join the family business. His parents had always worked in the Information Technology (IT) field and had built a successful business focused on mainframe and terminal computing. Growing up, Ellis worked in the family business to earn an allowance. So, as he embarked on his college education, Ellis initially thought that IT wasn’t the path for him. With so many other fields of study, he wanted to explore his options.
He chose Seminole State College of Florida because, as he put it, “it gave [him] the flexibility to try a bunch of career paths and classes before picking a major and dumping a lot of money into [his education].” From the very start, Harry dove into those General Education courses bent on discovering what would make him happy.
It was during those first two years at Seminole State that Ellis discovered a new side to the IT field. One of his buddies took an IT course in Cisco that he raved about, so Ellis became intrigued and signed up for it the next semester. That was a pivotal point in defining what would become a successful career in the IT field.
As Ellis dove further into the IT field of study, he discovered that his coursework was not what he saw in the family business. He found he enjoyed the classes -- you could even say it came easy to him -- and he was engaged in the subject matter right from the start. Ellis attributes IT Professors John Delgado and Lenny Portelli for keeping him motivated. “Both of those gentlemen were instructors when I was there and kept me interested. They kept me involved in the programs and were awesome mentors to me while I was at Seminole State,” Ellis added.
“Seminole State is unlike any other school. My path to success could have been completely different if it weren’t for Seminole State College.”
- Harry Ellis
Ellis finished his degree at Seminole State and made an easy transition to the University of Central Florida through the College’s DirectConnect to UCF program, which was new at the time. He finished his bachelor’s degree at UCF and continued his education to earn master’s degrees there as well. Now, Ellis is president of Next Horizon and has more than doubled the size of the business that offers web design and internet marketing services.
When asked if Seminole State contributed to his success in the IT field, Ellis shared that “Seminole State is unlike any other school. My path to success could have been completely different if it weren’t for Seminole State College.”
He went on to add, “From an education standpoint, I made the right choice. I made the right choice by going to Seminole State.” It offered him the foundation that’s led him to succeed in business, reignited his talents in the IT sector and pushed him to not only join the family business but take it to new heights. He’s since earned many accolades, like being named one of the 2017 CEOs of the Year by the Orlando Business Journal and being voted in as the 2018-19 board chair for the Seminole County Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Ellis’ support for Seminole State College has never waned, and he’s now at a point where he can give back by contributing to the Foundation for Seminole State College. During the Foundation’s 34 annual Dream Gala, he established an endowed scholarship in his company’s name. In addition to his support for scholarships and programs at the College, Ellis also is a member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors and served as the Alumni Association chair in 2016-17. As Ellis put it, he hopes his contributions will “help another student get to where I was able to get to.”
Seminole State College Alumni Association: The Seminole State College Alumni Association provides benefits and services for alumni as they continue their lifelong connection with Seminole State College of Florida, providing opportunities for them to network with one another, interact with the student body and support the College. To learn more, visit the Alumni Association website.