National Science Foundation Grant Supports Cybersecurity Career Aspirations

Three outstanding undergraduates were awarded National Science Foundation scholarships to prepare for careers in the evolving field of cybersecurity. This is the first year that these scholarships were made available and are not limited to Seidenberg students since recipients are required to study cybersecurity in an interdisciplinary context. As Andreea Cotoranu, coordinator of the program, points out: “A unique aspect of this scholarship is that they are also open to students who are interested in other disciplines as well as computing. Students in the program are required to take courses in information assurance and in a second discipline, such as accounting or criminal justice.”

Matt Kendris, a junior majoring in information technology and minoring in information assurance on the New York City campus, is highly interested in computer networking and has pursued numerous Cisco and CompTIA certifications on his own. He applied for the NSF scholarship “because I want to serve my country in the best way I can. I've always had a knack for computing, especially networking and viewing things in a security perspective. I've always been interested in security and now that I have become more proficient with large computer networks, the vulnerability of data has become much clearer.”

Marcus Hernandez, a transfer student from Rockland Community College who is studying on the Pleasantville campus, is also majoring in information technology and minoring in information assurance. He is particularly interested in software engineering, configuring and maintaining networks, and infrastructure security as well as accounting. When asked about his career choice, he said “I've always had a passion for technology and want to utilize my interest in computers for the common good. I became interested in cybersecurity because of 9/11. President Obama addressed his concern regarding cybersecurity last year and has made addressing security issues within our national computer infrastructure a top priority. I just want to be a part of that movement and envision myself working for the government, at least initially.”

And Michael D'Angelo, a Dyson College student majoring in criminal justice on the New York City campus, rounds out the group. His studies in law and criminal justice sparked an interest in cybersecurity and computer forensics. Encouraged by one of his professors, Michael applied for an NSF scholarship and added minors in both information systems and information assurance to his course of study, thereby making him eligible for the program. Michael envisions himself “working for a government agency where I can utilize my knowledge of criminal justice and combine it with my cybersecurity skills in order to help defend our country and its citizens. It has always been a dream of mine to do this on some level in order to be of service but I never dreamed of being given an opportunity such as this. I am excited and eager to see what the future holds and hope to make an impact.”

The Scholarship for Service Program provides recipients with full tuition, money for books and fees, and a stipend to cover partial living expenses for a period of two years. In addition, SFS students have the opportunity to work as interns in governmental agencies over the summer between their first and second year. In return, they are required, upon graduation, to work for the federal government in a position that enables them to apply their knowledge of information assurance to benefit the country's security.

To learn more about the NSF Scholarship for Service Program, visit http://www.seidenberg.pace.edu/ia and https://www.sfs.opm.gov.

Deadline for 2011-2013 awards:  March 31, 2011.