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BC Help Desk interns reach out to senior community

“There’s an app for that.”

The expression, coined and trademarked by Apple, could be heard over and over on Wednesday, May 29 at an Albany-based senior center where Capital Region residents lined up for a morning of free tech support. It may not have looked like the Genius Bar you’ll find at the Apple Store, but members of the young tech team who were sharing their know-how with seniors were both knowledgeable and well-versed in customer service.

Their unique combination of tech expertise and people skills have been developed while serving as interns at Bethlehem Central High School’s Technology Help Desk. Throughout the school year, the same students tackle all kinds of tech issues on behalf of the school district. The Help Desk staff interns serve as the first line of support at the high school. They work together, alongside Tech Department staff, troubleshooting, taking calls and answering emails from students and staff alike.

“Several years ago, we decided to tap the resources of our tech-savvy student population to increase efficiency in our Technology Department and at the same time provide students with valuable work experience,” said Senior Network & Systems Engineer Navaar Johnson, who established the district’s Help Desk several years ago with his colleague, the late Justin T. Brown.

“Each year our department hires and train approximately 20 student interns who work 10-15 hours a week helping staff and students solve hardware and software issues,” said Johnson. “The district benefits and so do our students.”

The BC Help Desk has served as a model for school districts nationwide.

Johnson said he and his colleagues realized seniors could also benefit from the Help Desk, having tech questions answered in a familiar setting. Twice a year, he said, the student interns take their talents out into the wider community offering assistance and answering questions about smartphones, iPads, passwords, apps, and more.

He and Network & Systems Technician Mike Nageotte accompanied 14 students to the Albany Guardian Society’s senior center as part of their most recent outreach effort. Working in pairs, the students greeted seniors and helped them diagnose different problems with their computers and gadgets.

Students from the Help Desk who participated in the visit to the Albany Guardian Society included:

  • Abigail Sodergren
  • Andres Sevilla
  • Richard Kleinhenz (Help Desk Leader)
  • William Convertino
  • Connor Chung
  • Maxwell Gillogly
  • Albert Snyder
  • Mason Minnicks
  • Matthew Kazanjian
  • Regan Murphy (Help Desk Leader)
  • Dan Ledezma
  • Jonah Eng
  • Dylan Paty
  • Liam Karl

“There have been a lot of account recovery questions,” said freshman Albie Snyder, who sat side-by-side with BC senior Connor Chung helping area residents. “We’ve also talked about using your phone for photography and have been showing people how to use Siri.”

Snyder and Chung taught Slingerlands resident William Nathan how to recover information on his phone when a password went missing.

“I really appreciate the service these students have provided,” said Nathan. “It has been extremely helpful to me.”

Snyder, the first BC freshman to be part of the Help Desk team, said the Help Desk has been more than just a great learning experience.

“I really feel like I found a home here,” said Snyder.

View WTEN coverage of the students’ visit to the Albany Guardian Society.