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Christopher Royal: From Army to cybersecurity expert

Major Christopher Royal
Major Christopher Royal. Photo provided by Royal.

Fayetteville, North Carolina, is home to many remarkable individuals, but one stands out in particular: Major Christopher Royal. A father, a Veteran and a man with an insatiable thirst for knowledge, Royal has had an incredible journey that has led him to where he is today. With 34 years in the military and 15 years in cybersecurity, he has a wealth of experience and knowledge to share.

Royal’s passion for learning and his impressive achievements were done with consistency and dedication. Royal enlisted in the U.S. Army at the young age of 18 and was stationed at Fort Bragg, now called Fort Liberty. He served in three combat deployments to Afghanistan and four tours in Iraq. His dedication and hard work did not go unnoticed. With Royal’s extensive education, he climbed the ranks and became an officer, and achieved the rank of major before retiring from the Army in December 2023.

However, Royal did not stop after retirement. He continued to pursue his love for learning and obtained multiple degrees, including five master’s and a doctorate. He most recently obtained a Master of Science in Cyber Operations and Resilience at Boise State University along with all three graduate certificates from the program. Royal stated, “Throughout my life, increasing my knowledge has helped me in the decision-making process and gave me the skills to analyze situations effectively.”

Royal’s love for learning is evident in his impressive academic achievements. He believes that education is the key to success and that it helped him in his advance in rank during his Army career. He also credits his military background for instilling in him a strong sense of focus and determination. Reminiscing about his childhood school teacher, Mrs. Jean Slate, he stated, “She always told me to keep going.” And that is exactly what he did.

Currently, Royal is pursuing multiple CompTIA certifications at Fayetteville State University. You will find him in the classroom from 6-10 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. He believes that one should never stop exercising one’s brain, especially in the ever-evolving field of cybersecurity.

Royal also has a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) with a specialty in information systems management. He is currently pursuing a law degree and studying for his LSATs and wants to become an attorney specializing in intellectual property, veterans rights and civil rights.

Applying His Skills

While serving in the U.S. Army, Royal was a Functional Area 57 (FA 57) simulations and operations officer who prevented systems from being hacked. He was able to apply his knowledge of simulations and war gaming while pursuing his master’s degree in cyber operations and resilience. He believes that businesses often focus on blue team defenses, but it is equally important to understand red team tactics as they help create a well-rounded defense strategy.

In the field of cybersecurity, staying up-to-date is crucial. As someone who believes in never shying away from learning new things, Royal makes sure to read the latest news on cyber attacks and operations. “What is new today will be old tomorrow, and one must always be a sponge and absorb new information,” he reflected.

Finding Inspiration

Throughout his life, Royal has faced failures, but he believes that true failure is when one does not get back up. He takes inspiration from trailblazers who have overcome obstacles and achieved greatness, such as Martin Luther King and Katherine G Johnson, a mathematician featured in the movie Hidden Figures. Royal also believes that one should never be afraid to take a shot, as that is the only way to know if you have hit the mark.

Royal’s journey is an inspiration to all. His passion for learning and dedication to his work have led him to achieve great success. He believes that one should never stop learning and that there is always something new to discover. He also encourages others to move in silence and let their work speak for itself. Royal is a true inspiration; we can all learn from his journey.

Written by Zamzam Nour.