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Alyssa Koslowski’s journey in cybersecurity and motherhood

Alyssa Koslowski in a graduation cap and gown.
Alyssa Koslowski. Photo provided by Koslowski.

Like many others, Alyssa Koslowski’s career path has taken many twists and turns to get her to the successful place she is today. Originally from San Diego, California, Koslowski remembers being fascinated with technology even as a young girl. She recalls enjoying her free time by playing a game that challenged the player to solve problems by writing code. While frustrating at times, the feeling of accomplishment when she finally solved a problem was incredibly gratifying. From there, her curiosity grew; she would think about potential issues with her code that could be used to break what she created. Those close to Koslowski could see her natural talent, but it took her some time to realize she could excel in a career in technology.

“I was always interested in it but never really thought, oh, that could be me,” she reflected.

Koslowski started her education by attending several community colleges before moving to Boise, Idaho, with her husband. After having her son, she decided to return to school as a new mother and was accepted into Boise State University. After initially shifting her studies from radiologic sciences to civil engineering, she eventually found her way back to her true calling in technology with Boise State’s online Bachelor of Science in Cyber Operations and Resilience.

As if balancing work, family, and studies wasn’t challenging enough, Koslowski even gave birth to her second child while enrolled in classes. “I did part-time one semester and gave birth to my daughter at the end of that semester and then came back [full-time].” Her ability to juggle multiple responsibilities played a crucial role in her success.

The online format of the cyber operations and resilience program offered the flexibility she needed as a mother of two. It allowed her to navigate her busy schedule efficiently. She appreciated that she did not need to choose between being a student and a mother.; she could spend her days studying from home with the freedom to pause what she was doing when one of her children needed her attention.

Koslowski also attributes her success to the support she received from her instructors. When life’s circumstances put her at risk of falling behind, her instructors were able to recognize her challenges and help her find ways to succeed. “I won’t lie; balancing two kids, a job and my studies were challenging. But thanks to the program’s flexibility, I could manage my time effectively,” she recalled.

Standing Out in Cybersecurity

Koslowski graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Cyber Operations and Resilience in May 2023. This degree played a crucial role in preparing her for her current position. “Having my bachelor’s in cyber operations and resilience is definitely the reason that I got the job. I think the title stood out; it caught the attention of my [current] bosses.”

Her employers were particularly curious about the program’s curriculum and asked her to interview for the position. During the interview, she demonstrated the broad range of skills she developed, from computer forensics to risk assessment. She was promptly offered the position.

Koslowski currently works in the cybersecurity domain, where her role includes various responsibilities such as quality assurance testing, IT support and network administration. She is also actively involved in her organization’s security operations center to secure digital assets.

Koslowski believes the cyber operations and resilience program prepared her for this position in multiple ways. The fundamental networking and security knowledge she gained is a foundation for problem-solving specific issues. This makes her confident to tackle new projects even with little prior experience. “It prepared me to be more open-minded and jump into projects,” she explained.

She has also learned about the resources available for security professionals, such as standardized frameworks, and she refers to them for guidance. Her formal training exposed her to real-world scenarios that taught her to assess problems, determine the desired outcome and create an executable plan. Now, she is thriving in an environment where she can practice what she has learned.

Koslowski loves navigating the obstacles that come along with working in cybersecurity. Just like when she was a young girl, she finds solving problems satisfying. “I enjoy the challenges of cybersecurity; even though it can be frustrating at times, the ‘aha’ moments make it all worth it.”

Building a Future in Cybersecurity and the Cloud

Although Koslowski has earned her bachelor’s degree and begun a successful career in cybersecurity, she is not slowing down. She is preparing to take certifications that will expand her technical skills, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), CompTIA Security+ and Network+. Outside of her professional life, Koslowski’s passion for cybersecurity extends to personal projects. Despite the demands of work and family, she finds time to collaborate on a security-focused coding project with a like-minded peer.

Looking ahead, Koslowski has set ambitious goals for herself. Her desire to combine cybersecurity expertise with cloud services has inspired her to pursue cloud certifications and programming knowledge. The cloud is interesting to Koslowski because of the challenge of simultaneously offering secure data storage that is also readily accessible. She says, “I’m looking forward to pursuing a master’s in business and cloud certifications, aiming to become a cloud security architect in the future.” This path aligns perfectly with her passion for protecting and defending cloud-based systems.

Learn More about the Cyber Operations and Resilience Program at Boise State

Boise State’s online Bachelor of Science in Cyber Operations and Resilience is an asynchronous, 100% online program with no in-person requirements. Learn from cyber industry leaders and prepare to enter a meaningful career where anticipating, detecting, mitigating and managing cyber threats is crucial. No math or technical background is required.

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By Abigail Wisdom