Northeast State student Jessica DelGrande has been invited to attend the national Advanced Technical Education (ATE) Principal Investigators Conference next month.
DelGrande received one of only 50 invitations made to community college students nationwide to attend the conference held in Washington, D.C., Oct. 26-28. The 23rd annual conference is being held by the American Association of Community Colleges with the support of the National Science Foundation (NSF).
“I was already interested in cyber security because I really want to help people,” said DelGrande, a full-time student and Computer Science major at Northeast State. “Attending this conference gives me a great chance to network with professionals in the cyber field and listen to their advice and experiences.”
Formerly a respiratory therapist, DelGrande is pursuing her associate of applied science degree in Computer and Information Science with a concentration of Information Assurance. She plans to become a web application penetration tester to build her career in Offensive Security. DelGrande said a passion for complexities of security in the ever-expanding “cyber domain” pushed her desire to learn.
“There are numerous certifications you can earn to stay on top of your skills and expand your expertise in cyber security,” said DelGrande. “I want to interact with those people and build a network that will help me grow professionally.”
She was nominated to attend the conference by Computer Science associate professor Allan Anderson who directs the program’s cyber security program. The College’s Information Assurance concentration will undergo a name change to the Cyber Defense concentration in fall of 2017.
DelGrande also seeks to mentor other young women considering a career in cyber security and expand their sights beyond traditional career pathways. She said the dynamic nature of cyber security gave women the opportunity to excel in their careers while staying connected to their families.
“Too much of the time, women get pushed toward nursing,” said DelGrande, a single mother of two children. “I hope my presence at the ATE conference will inspire other women to join the cyber security field and allow them to see other professional women lifting each other up.”
The NSF created the ATE program to improve educational opportunities for technicians in technologically-drive STEM fields that drive the U.S. economy. The conference brings together some 800 people from higher education, business and industry, as well as research and development centers to focus on the critical issues related to advanced technological education.
The College’s cyber security program expansion and enrollment follows an NSF Grant for Integrating Soft/Entrepreneurial Skills in Cybersecurity awarded to Northeast State in April. DelGrande also serves as a student ambassador for Cyber and Networking speaking to high school counselors about the merits of cyber security as a solid major for young women entering college. Her ambassadorship role is funded through a grant from the Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.
“The cyber security field gives you time with your family at home while you enjoy an amazing career in your field and continue to advance professionally,” said DelGrande. “Plus, there’s no heavy lifting beyond a computer monitor.”