Who Are Tomorrow’s "Cybersecurity Veterans"?

Atlanta  |  November 6, 2017

Students across Georgia Tech are answering their country’s call to serve with a patriotic pledge to support U.S. government cybersecurity after graduation.

 

Nationally, there is an estimated workforce shortage of 1.8 million cybersecurity professionals, and the need is broad in government positions which can pay less than the private sector. Meanwhile, the U.S. government is escalating its cybersecurity response through initiatives such as a presidential executive order to strengthen cybersecurity, the U.S. Army Cyber Command housed at Fort Gordon in Georgia, and more.

Under the CyberCorps® Scholarship for Service, 11 students from Georgia Tech are “tomorrow’s cybersecurity veterans.” They’ve agreed to work for a military, federal, state or tribal agency after graduation – sacrificing what could be maximum salary potential tomorrow – in exchange for full tuition coverage today by Uncle Sam. Click on their names below to read more about what inspired them to make the choice.

Georgia Tech students in the Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, International Affairs or Public Policy degree programs may apply for Spring '18 scholarship funds before Dec. 1.

 
Ming "Sherry" Chen  |  Brian Edmonds  |  Angelique Edwards  |  David Elder  |  Reagan Johnson  |  Changho "Brian" Lee  |  Morgan Mango  |  Joseph Minieri  |  Ujjwal Arun Nair  |  Shondalyn Smith  |  Erin Whittaker

Ming "Sherry" Chen

 
MS Cybersecurity - Policy ’19
School of Public Policy
Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts
 

Why are you interested in cybersecurity?

What drew me into cybersecurity as a field of study is how necessary it is in almost everything we do. From healthcare IT to national security, it is critical that we understand and address threats and vulnerabilities inherent to cyberspace.

What do you hope to do next in your career?

I've always wanted to work in national defense. I plan to work as an intelligence analyst with the federal government, utilizing my education in cybersecurity and international affairs. I think the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service scholarship will help me greatly in this regard, due to its networking opportunities and the wonderful faculty and staff that support us.

Brian Edmonds

 
MS Information Security - Systems ’18
School of Computer Science
College of Computing
 

Why are you interested in cybersecurity?

I’m interested in cybersecurity because it is so relevant to everything we do today and, especially, everything we will do tomorrow. Think about social media and online banking and critical infrastructure. These domains all share a cybersecurity component and I enjoy learning the skills necessary to secure them. It’s exciting to be in a field that gets attention from not only friends, family and peers, but also the top levels of the United States government.

What do you hope to do next in your career?

I hope to carve out a spot for myself as a dynamic cybersecurity professional. I’d like to have both technical skills and strong communication abilities. I don’t know where I will end up working, but I hope it is a place that is able to keep me sharp in both of those areas. The CyberCorps Scholarship for Service scholarship has allowed me to transition from a full-time worker to a full-time student, without having to worry about finances or logistics.

 

Angelique Edwards

 
BS International Affairs & Modern Languages ’18
Sam Nunn School of International Affairs and School of Modern Languages
Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts
 

Why are you interested in cybersecurity?

Through studying international affairs and more specifically international security at Georgia Tech and abroad in Southeast Asia, I came to realize that the cyber domain is integral in arguably all security issues including the nontraditional security issues I care most about. The expanding cyber warfare arena defines the 21st century, and this coupled with the rise of non-state actors, effects of intrastate conflict, sweeping demographic changes, and overall new definitions of power have redefined the international system. I want to be at the forefront of my field, and I want to stay ahead of technological advancement. For example, I want to combat human trafficking through the lens of cyber-sex trafficking, and be a part of counterterrorism operations by analyzing the algorithmic integrity behind them.

What do you hope to do next in your career?

I am very open to my next steps. This past summer, I was an intern for a congressman on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and I loved the experience. I executed my long-term research project on the effects of algorithmic integrity on counterterrorism operations. I have one more summer to intern with my CyberCorps Scholarship for Service fellowship and then I will be off to full time work. For this next summer, I hope to be back in D.C. either working for the Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security, or State Department. I am also considering a congressional committee which focuses on cybersecurity; this would ideally be the homeland security senate or house committee.

As it pertains to after I graduate, my options are very open but I do know I would love to end up in D.C., working to combat international security issues. This scholarship is helping me immensely in reaching my goals. It is giving me the educational mentorship I need to gain a technical skill set in information security while also providing financial support, and mentorship that will lead me to hopefully a great career choice. 

 

David Elder

 
MS Cybersecurity - Information Security ’19
School of Computer Science
College of Computing
 

Why are you interested in cybersecurity?

I am interested in cybersecurity because it lies at the intersection of my love for computer science and my desire to help other people. I am particularly drawn to the area of attribution, and the hope that by exposing cyber criminals, we can decrease the number of malicious actors on the Internet.

What do you hope to do next in your career?

After Georgia Tech, I’m hoping to join an FBI cybercrime unit. The CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program is the reason that I am able to go to grad school in the first place, but it will also help give me increased access to government positions and other training that I can use to learn more about the field.  

Reagan Johnson

 
MS Cybersecurity - Policy ’19
School of Public Policy
Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts
 

Why are you interested in cybersecurity?

I have always been passionate about public policy, but I also knew that I wanted to enter into a field that would constantly challenge me and allow me to learn new things on a daily basis. I never really considered going into cybersecurity until I took two courses on internet and cybersecurity policy in the School of Public Policy during my last year of undergrad here at Georgia Tech. After taking those classes, I realized our government had a long way to go in preparing for a new digital age where data and information technology are more important to protect than ever. Cybersecurity allows me to combine my interest, science and technology, with my passion: making sure government policies work for and protect every single person they affect.

How can this scholarship help you with your future career?

Growing up with a father who was in the military, I knew from a young age that I wanted to be like him and dedicate my life to public service. I am not quite sure where I will end up next, but I do know that it will be in a position that serves the U.S. government and the American people to the best of my abilities. This scholarship (CyberCorps Scholarship for Service) makes it possible for me to pursue a degree in a field that I never would have imagined I would fall in love with. The financial support is amazing, of course, but it is the supportive network of people that truly makes this scholarship invaluable.  The knowledge and advice that they pass down to each of us in the scholarship program will help make the transition into the workforce seamless, no matter where I land.

 

Changho “Brian” Lee

 
MS Computer Science - Computing Systems ’19
School of Computer Science
College of Computing
 

Why are you interested in cybersecurity?

I am interested in cybersecurity because of its underlying details. There is always a reason something happens in security. At a high level, it may seem like magic, but by understanding the entire system of computers and networks, there is always a source. I enjoy learning the entire details of an established system and finding improvements. Hence, cybersecurity both provides me that system and also holes to go look for. What is funny is that people create these holes. Although computers/programs are advanced and intricate, they are created by people, and people make mistakes. I think this human aspect also makes it fun. 

What do you hope to do next in your career?

At the moment, I do not have an exact agency/company in mind. I would like to be involved in technical-heavy work for the first few years of my professional career. This scholarship really does help me put all of my efforts in being a cyber security engineer and also provides great internship/job opportunities.

Morgan Mango

BS Computer Engineering ’19
School of Electrical & Computer Engineering
College of Engineering
 

Why are you interested in cybersecurity?

I became interested in cybersecurity and working in the government mainly because of how I grew up. My dad was an active service man in the U.S. Army for more than 20 years, so I grew up on Army bases surrounded by people who either worked with or were in the government. I got interested into computers due to the Army’s outreach programs, and later cybersecurity because of the number of cyber-attacks I read about, and outreach events ran by the National Security Agency, Northrop Grumman, and the Army. I fell in love with cybersecurity because it was like playing detective, where I would use programming and tools to piece together an incident or solve a problem. When I realized a computer nerd like me could help my country and be part of something bigger than myself just like my dad, grandpa, cousins, and uncles, I jumped at the chance. The (CyberCorps Scholarship for Service) money was just an added bonus; most importantly I got additional guidance and exposure to my passion of learning how to protect our tech-oriented government.

What do you hope to do next in your career?  

I’ve still got a lot to learn, but the scholarship is giving me more experience and exposure though mentorship, research, and funding for me to learn everything I possibly can.  

I hope to focus in malware analysis and encryption to create safer ways to protect our sensitive data from hackers. I would say my top (employment) choice for this is the NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency or The MITRE Corp.

Joseph Minieri

 
BS Computer Science ’19
School of Computer Science
College of Computing
 

Why are you interested in cybersecurity?

Since my sophomore year of high school, I have known that I wanted to study computer science in college. This notion came from taking several different programming and networking classes which I thoroughly enjoyed. My interests in the cybersecurity field have stemmed from research in the field my senior year of high school. For my senior project, I shadowed the security department of L.L. Bean and learned about various ways for an individual to protect himself/herself at home from potential cyber threats. The knowledge I gained from this experience allowed me to create a pamphlet and presentation to give to my local community to help increase awareness of risks.

By going into the field of cybersecurity I combine both my passion for computer science and helping people. It puts me in a position where I can use my skills to protect valuable information. Whether this be for the government, where I would be able to protect national information, or for the private sector, where I would protect individual information, I appreciate the work I would be doing.

How can this scholarship help you with your future career?

The CyberCorps Scholarship for Service will not only help me in the short term by allowing me to fully concentrate on academics without having to stress about out of state tuition, but it will be something I greatly enjoy. Since cybersecurity is an ever growing field, I am excited to tackle and solve new problems. In addition to the security aspect of this scholarship, I appreciate the service aspect as well.

​Ujjwal Arun Nair

 
MS Cybersecurity - Information Security ’19
School of Computer Science
College of Computing
 

Why are you interested in cybersecurity?

I’m interested in cybersecurity because I’ve always been fascinated by the capabilities of hackers on TV shows and movies, and I wanted to learn how they do those things. Learning how to do those things and protect against them is the main catalyst for me studying cybersecurity.

What do you hope to do next in your career?  

As far as my career goes, there are many paths I am considering. I want to design intelligent cyber defense tools (perhaps as a part of U.S Department of Homeland Security or various private sector firms) and write cyber policy for important agencies to try and protect them from various attacks.

This scholarship enables me to study without the usual financial pressures and gives me the ability to interact with different research opportunities. The grant also enables me to further my education outside Georgia Tech with certifications and the like.

 

​Shondalyn Smith

MS Cybersecurity - Information Security ’18
School of Computer Science
College of Computing
 

Why are you interested in cybersecurity?

My interest in cybersecurity started in 2011 while I was interning at the Air Force Research Lab (Rome, NY) Cybersecurity Lab. The research I conducted sparked my interest as I was able to work with a variety of tools. I had no idea how progressive the field would be until 2014, when companies began to experience security breaches and the privacy and data domain became a hot topic. I consider myself a cybersecurity advocate and I want to make an impact in the field to help better and increase company (private and public) standards and protect consumer data and privacy.

What do you hope to do next in your career?

After finishing my undergraduate degree in computer science, I went on to work for IBM in Research Triangle Park as a software engineer working on IBM's Mainframe (Communications Server). Eventually I hope to return to the company, but in the IBM Security business unit.  My short-term goal is to work in cybersecurity with a government intelligence or defense agency, specifically in risk management, compliance, and security operations.

This scholarship has enabled me to solely focus on my studies without the stress of working while also networking with other students and gaining access to exclusive internship opportunities.  Without the funding from CyberCorps Scholarship for Service, I would not have been fortunate to succeed in my first semester of graduate school and landing an internship with the Federal Trade Commission this past summer in Washington, D.C.  

 

Erin Whittaker

 
MS International Affairs and MS Cybersecurity - Policy ’19
Sam Nunn School of International Affairs and School of Public Policy
Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts
 

Why are you interested in cybersecurity?

My work experience at a tech company exposed me to the sector of cybersecurity. It appealed to me and I decided to pivot my career and return to school for a M.S. in Cybersecurity and M.S. in International Affairs. I like the speed at which cybersecurity changes and the challenge of adapting cybersecurity to new technology and attacker abilities. It makes the field an exciting one!

What do you hope to do next in your career?

I plan to work for the government after graduate school. This scholarship has already helped me immensely with networking within the government. The scholarship also allows for me to travel to different conferences and pursue certifications.  

-- Yanfeng Jin