These two veterans won cyber security scholarships, and so could you

Matt Saintsing
February 22, 2018 - 3:19 pm

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Two U.S. Army vets won scholarships that will completely fund highly sought-after cybersecurity certifications, a rapidly growing skillset that employers are desperate to find.

Engility, a leading cyber security company, has partnered with The Center for Cyber Safety and Education, a non-profit group, to offer Magadalena Seitz and Leo Bastidas full scholarships for the rigorous (ISC)2 certifications—the internationally recognized industry standard for cyber security.

The CyberWarrior Scholarships will provide everything the two veterans need to certify them for a career in cyber security. 

"Cybersecurity awakened a desire in me to continue learning, especially when the end reward is helping people understand and learn about the dangers found online," said Seitz, who is the first in her family to attend college.

She joined the U.S. Army as a light-wheel vehicle mechanic, but quickly became fascinated in cybersecurity."Winning this scholarship allows me to gain certifications in pursuit of my dream to work for the Department of Defense and eventually teach others about this career." 

Bastidas, also a U.S. Army veteran, first learned about computers from an older brother who repaired them and found information about the scholarship through a friend. Already a full-time cyber security incident responder for a multinational information technology company. Bastidas hopes the scholarship will bring him "just a stone's throw away from being a chief technology officer at a Fortune 500 company." 

A growing field, behind every hack or data breach, there’s an army of cyber security specialists working diligently behind the scenes to put out the fire yet employers can’t seem to find qualified applicants fast enough.

The ISACA, an information security advocacy non-profit, predicts there’ll be a global shortage of two million cyber security professionals by 2019.

Each year, some 40,000 information security analyst jobs go unfilled while employers struggle to fill 200,000 other cyber security roles, according to CyberSeek, a cyber-security data tool.

Bastidas stresses the need for a proactive approach even before leaving the military.  "Transitioning out of the military, I didn't really know what to expect," he said.

"I would tell soon-to-be veterans to start looking at scholarships and programs, like Engility and other cyber security focused companies before they get out. I waited until afterwards, so I think I was a little behind the curve. If they start looking right away before they start their transition it gives them a heads-up to get a job lined up."

"As soon as you know you're going to get out of the military, start looking at companies like Engility and other veteran-focused jobs and scholarships," he added. 

"We are grateful for our veterans' commitment to continue to serve their country in a critical defense field like cybersecurity," said Lynn Dugle, Engility CEO.

"Combing through the applications and reading story after story of incredible strength, bravery and duty to country was humbling, and we will continue to look for ways to serve those who served us."

At the end of the training, these veterans can enter into lucrative jobs with highly-desired technical skills, such as security analyst, security engineer, security auditor and security architect, just to name a few.

The average annual salary across various cybersecurity fields is around $116,000, nearly three times the national average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Veterans who have experience following technical directions, and national security knowledge, may just be the perfect candidates for this emerging career field.

"Our veterans are deeply committed to our national security and are uniquely qualified for this mission,” said Patrick Craven, Director of the Cyber Safety Education.

Click here to learn more about The CyberWarrior Scholarships.