When Cordell Wilson decided to study computer science as an undergraduate student in 1996, he wasn’t motivated by a passion for the industry. Instead, he thought the degree would help him land a steady job. However, after the dotcom bubble crash in the early 2000s, positions in the field weren’t as widespread as Cordell had hoped. He was left both in debt and burnt out from the rigors of his studies, and he ended up starting his career in a completely different field.

So, when the lifelong Auburn Gresham resident decided he wanted to go back to school two decades later, he was determined to make the experience worthwhile. Due to his interest in the rapidly-growing cannabis industry, he began to research how to get started in the field, knowing this time, he would be able to combine passion with opportunity.

Almost simultaneously, Cordell came across a job as a dispensary agent, and he discovered the Cannabis Dispensary Operations certificate offered at Olive-Harvey College, where he would be able to receive free tuition through Project Evolve. He applied for and was accepted into both opportunities.

A few weeks into his classes at Olive-Harvey, Cordell was excited to learn there were even more possibilities in the cannabis industry than he originally thought. He said the program opened his eyes to the entire supply chain of the plant, giving him a more thorough look into all of the different types of jobs that are available.

After 16 weeks of learning and networking with industry experts, Cordell received his certificate in Cannabis Dispensary Operations in December 2020. Through a partnership with OHC, he’s now participating in a work-based learning opportunity with Nexem, a minority-owned AgTech company, where he’s learning how to cultivate the cannabis plant. Combined with his job as a dispensary agent, he’s experiencing both ends of the supply chain first-hand, and exploring his options for a more permanent career.

No matter which path Cordell ends up pursuing, he knows there’s plenty of opportunity to grow in this booming industry.

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