In the fast-evolving world of technology and cybersecurity, individuals like Alondra Sarmiento are breaking barriers and forging paths to success. As a first-generation graduate, Sarmiento’s journey into Boise State University’s cyber operations and resilience program showcases the transformative power of passion, determination and a supportive academic environment.
Discovering the Cyber Operations and Resilience Program
Before starting the Bachelor of Science in Cyber Operations and Resilience, Sarmiento’s educational path took her through the fields of chemistry and business. However, she realized her true calling during her experience with pandemic-induced remote learning.
“When I did chemistry alone, I did not care for it as much.” Sarmiento said. “I started to look at all the major options Boise State offered and found that the cyber operations and resilience program was a new option that piqued my interest.”
The Supportive Environment and Role Models
Sarmiento emphasized how the program’s teachers, students and support system played a significant role while she earned her bachelor’s degree. The motivational environment fostered by her peers and the guidance of program faculty members like Sandy Dunn propelled her forward and helped build her confidence through each course.
“It felt like there was nothing but open doors everywhere I looked,” Sarmiento said. “There are so many branches of cybersecurity. So if I don’t like one, that’s okay because there are so many options to explore.”
Gaining Skills and Knowledge in Cybersecurity
Through the undergraduate cyber operations and resilience program, Sarmiento acquired diverse skills and knowledge that were crucial for her professional growth. The program’s comprehensive curriculum, including in-depth CompTIA classes for Security+ and Network+ and weekly computer labs, laid the groundwork for a strong computer science and cybersecurity foundation. Her newfound confidence and adaptability prepared Sarmiento for her current role as an IT support specialist for the Nampa School District, where she enthusiastically takes on new challenges — even if they require learning new concepts.
During the program, Sarmiento’s involvement in networking events and group projects played a pivotal role in developing her soft skills and expanding her professional connections. She actively engaged in office hours with professors and teaching assistants and gained insights into various career paths and new job opportunities.
Sarmiento appreciated the incremental nature of the cyber operations and resilience program, noting that each class built upon the previous one and culminated to a breadth of knowledge. This building-block approach helped her transition from initially not understanding much at cybersecurity events to confidently comprehending complex presentations by the time she graduated.
Embracing Coding and Personal Growth
Sarmiento’s favorite course in the program was the Python course, which challenged her to learn to code and boosted her confidence in her ability to do hard things.
“It was a class that the more I invested, the more that I got out of it,” she said
The experience instilled in her the value of practical application and the courage to take on coding-related projects at her new workplace. She has now challenged herself to learn HTML. Sarmiento’s ability to continuously learn and explore new avenues stems from the program’s emphasis on pushing boundaries and investing in personal growth.
Inspiring Others: Advice and Future Endeavors
Sarmiento’s journey as a first-generation student serves as an inspiration to others considering enrolling in the cyber operations and resilience program. She encourages aspiring students not to be afraid of taking risks, putting themselves out there and seizing opportunities for internships or part-time jobs to gain practical experience in IT. Her advice is simple yet profound.
“Even if you don’t think you are capable of doing it, if you are interested in it, you should do it,” she said.
Sarmiento is poised to make a significant impact on the industry and serve as a role model for future cybersecurity professionals. She has enrolled in Boise State’s online Master of Science in Cyber Operations and Resilience and is excited about the new skills she will acquire and the new connections she will forge.
Learn More About Cyber Operations and Resilience
Want to learn more about Boise State’s online Bachelor of Science in Cyber Operations and Resilience? Join us for an online information session or contact a student success coach.
By Marissa Wilson