KC Tech Non-Profit Graduates its First Class, Former Chiefs Player Gives Remarks

Among those who spoke to the i.c.stars|Kansas City graduates were (from left) Matt Sharples, managing Partner of TriCom technology services; Shamika Hogen, i.c.stars|KC executive director, i.c.stars Co-founder Sandee Kastrul and Will Shields, Pro-football Hall of Famer and i.c.stars|Kansas City Advisory Board chair. Photo Credit: i.c.stars|Kansas City

Posted January 29, 2024

The education non-profit i.c.stars|Kansas City, which gives students from low-income backgrounds experience in the hi-tech sector, graduated its first class of 11 students with former Kansas City Chiefs player Will Shields addressing the class.

i.c.stars|Kansas City officially opened its local office downtown in July. The non-profit provides a 16-week program that teaches the class coding, business practices and leadership instruction.

In 2018, Chicago-based i.c.stars partnered with the pro football hall of famer Will Shields and his organization, Will to Succeed Foundation, to make the Kansas City chapter possible.

Shields attended the commencement event and gave remarks to the class about breaking barriers to progress in their education careers.

“It’s what this program instills — not only are you learning to make yourself better but you are clearing the way for the next group that comes after you,” Shields said. “We are making ourselves better individuals because we are not looking just internally but externally saying ‘How can what I know help you? How can I pull you along? How can I build the bridge? How can I do the next thing?”

The first cycle of graduates from the i.c.stars|Kansas City program posed for their “official” class photo with board members, instructors, staff and the nonprofit’s founder. Photo Credit: i.c.stars|Kansas City

During the final month of the program, students participated in career readiness activities including mock interviews, resume reviews, and career coffees.

The i.c.stars|Kansas City office is led by executive director Shamika Hogan. While the 16-week program felt short, Hogan believes the graduates exited the program with knowledge in both technology and leadership.

“As we successfully conclude this inaugural cycle for Kansas City, I think the significance lies in the practical application of their newfound expertise,” she said. Graduates are currently interviewing with multiple companies with a number having already landed employment.”