Since enrolling at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, Ian Bae has made a habit of arriving to class early.
He’s not getting there prematurely to find the best seat or a quiet study space, though. He’s meeting with professors during office hours to discuss the latest trends in cybersecurity.
Bae picked up the habit in fall 2017 after news broke about the Equifax data breach, which exposed the personal information of an estimated 150 million Americans. In the weeks following the breach, Bae, an information systems major, spent significant time with Cybersecurity Institute Director Shaji Khan talking about the issue and the credit bureau’s remediation process.
“I had never seen a professor so passionate about cybersecurity before,” said Bae, who is also pursuing a minor in cybersecurity. “Honestly, that passion made me excited about this field that I didn’t know that much about but I thought sounded really, really cool. I would spend every week in his office hours talking about the latest trends, and that really helped me to gain a better understanding of this field and encouraged me to continue in it.”
In the year since beginning these conversations, Bae acquired a risk management internship with a military unit, a full-time job offer and a U.S. Bank scholarship awarded exclusively to cybersecurity students.
He was one of four UMSL students presented with a $2,500 U.S. Bank Cybersecurity Scholarship during an Oct. 16 presentation in the U.S. Bank Executive Education Room of Anheuser-Busch Hall. The other recipients include Adelaide Aboagye, Andrew McCormick and Vasyl Onufriyev.
“It is amazing to have a partner like U.S. Bank helping UMSL advance its mission and helping us all most generally in building stronger and more resilient communities,” said Andrew Kersten, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “With the support from U.S. Bank, students in our growing UMSL cybersecurity program will make real-world impacts and quickly.”
Aboagye, a native of Ghana and a mother of two, is enrolled in the Master of Science in Information Systems program and pursuing a cybersecurity certificate. She holds an MSW from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. After a year in the social work field, she enrolled at UMSL to pursue an interest in big data and gain a better understanding of cybersecurity.
Onufriyev, a first-generation immigrant from Ukraine, is pursuing a lifelong dream of becoming a professional software development manager. As he works toward that goal, he’s majoring in computer science and pursuing a cybersecurity certificate.
“My motivation is to give back to the industry that helped me ultimately change the course of my life,” Onufriyev said during the scholarship ceremony. “It is my goal to partake in the creation of software that follows industry standards and accounts for known and future cyber threats. As a side mission, I would like to spread my understanding of cybersecurity to my fellow peers and coworkers and learn from them, so that we may be that much closer to achieving a secure future.”
McCormick, a computer science major with an emphasis in cybersecurity, is transitioning from a career in elementary education. He taught in the Kirkwood and Parkway school districts before deciding to continue his educational journey. He is on track to graduate in 2019.
Marcia Peters, manager of information security for U.S. Bank, traveled from U.S. Bancorp headquarters in Minneapolis for the second year to congratulate the award recipients. Before presenting the four scholarships, she addressed the rapid rate of change in cybersecurity and the need for a more populated workforce to keep up with this development.
“Cybersecurity is at the heart of keeping our customers, employees and communities protected from attacks,” Peters said. “In order to maintain safety and soundness, we need well-trained cybersecurity leaders in our businesses. That is why we are excited to partner with the University of Missouri–St. Louis to provide these scholarships to help further these students’ education and training.”
UMSL’s multidisciplinary cybersecurity program is jointly housed within the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Business Administration, providing a blend of technical- and management-oriented education. The National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have designated UMSL as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education and awarded the university a focus area specialization in security policy and compliance.
The U.S. Bank Cybersecurity Scholarships are part of a three-year commitment to UMSL, which began in 2017.
“U.S. Bank’s cybersecurity scholarship program, its Strength in Security Conference and university outreach are all great examples of the kind of leadership we sorely need to meaningfully address the cybersecurity talent shortage, and we appreciate it,” College of Business Administration Dean Charlie Hoffman said.
The scholarship recipients are also grateful for the financial assistance, which will allow them to continue their education while advancing the cybersecurity field.
“I’m just glad to have this opportunity from U.S. Bank to equip the next generation,” Bae said. “Education has played a pivotal role not just for me but for all the IS students. I’ve made some excellent connections at UMSL between faculty, staff and students. I hope to pursue those in the future.”
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