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Grad Philip Warner living his dream overseas

Man stands in front of robot; banner with text in Japanese language is in background
Philip Warner, an SCC and Swain High graduate, now lives in Japan and uses the skills he learned at SCC as a server technician for IBM.

Growing up in Bryson City, Philip Warner always thought it would be awesome to go to Japan.

It wasn’t so much the rich history and ancient culture tugging at his heartstrings. Rather, it was the technology.

“Everything cool about tech was in Japan when I was growing up,” recalled Warner, who graduated from Swain High in 2009. “I always had an interest in tech, and I would talk to my teachers about it. Japan always seemed like a hub.”

Far away as Japan may have seemed, Warner immersed himself in tech right where he lived. At an early age, he played his Playstation so much that it broke … so he took it apart to try and figure out how to fix it.

He later enrolled in Southwestern Community College’s Computer Engineering Technology program and began learning the skills he’d eventually put to work in Japan. Not long after he graduated from SCC in 2011, his dream came true – and he boarded a plane for Japan.

He’s still working there today.

“After I graduated from SCC, I transferred to Western Carolina University and met a teacher who told me about an opportunity to study abroad,” Warner recalled. “So I entered the Japanese program and went to Tokyo.”

Warner returned to Western North Carolina in the summer of 2015 and completed a series of internships before graduating from WCU. Immediately after earning his bachelor’s degree in Japanese Special Studies (with a minor in CIS), he landed an English teaching job with the RCS corporation in Japan.

He traveled around Japan teaching English until he received a call one day from IBM, and he landed a position with that company in April. He’s not allowed to describe in great detail what he does, but it’s clearly in the field he’s loved since childhood.

“I’m a server technician,” he said. “I maintain servers in IBM’s cloud network. It’s very high security. I go in to work and am always learning something new.”

His success is no surprise to SCC Information Technologies instructor Kurt Berger, who knew Warner before he arrived as a student at Southwestern. Berger and a pair of colleagues from the college drove over to watch Warner present his senior project at Swain High.

Warner’s power supply was bad out of the box, but the way he responded – and improvised – impressed Berger.

“Philip Warner is what SCC aims to do with a young person,” Berger said. “He exemplifies the ideal qualities we hope all of our graduates possess: Maturity, professionalism, intelligence and a concern for both local and global needs. While I would like to believe that SCC played a sizable role in Philip's success, I have to acknowledge that Mr. Warner was impressive when he arrived at our doorstep.“

He may now live and work thousands of miles from Western North Carolina, but Warner said the lessons he learned at SCC are never far from his mind.

 “Everything I learned from SCC translates very well; I continue to build and learn off those fundamentals every day,” Warner said. “Every time I think about SCC, I think back to how it feels like family. I had a lot of really great moments there.”

For more information about Southwestern and the programs it offers, visit, call 828.339.4000 or drop by your nearest SCC location.


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