Courtney Hassenfeldt ’18, ’20 M.S. says she’s grateful for the variety of transformative opportunities she had as a Charger, which included cutting-edge research, volunteering for a “Girls in STEM” program, and attending conferences across the United States and in the United Kingdom.

January 17, 2020

By Courtney Hassenfeldt ’18, ’20 M.S.

Image of Courtney Hassenfeldt and Cinthya Mendez
Courtney Hassenfeldt ’18, ’20 M.S. (left) and Cinthya Grajeda Mendez ’17, ’20 M.S. at the University’s Winter Commencement ceremony in December.

I made the decision to go to the University of New Haven when I was in middle school. Back then, I wanted to study forensic science. I first came to the University for a summer forensic science camp, and, even then, I loved the feeling of being on campus. I knew this is where I wanted to go to school.

I applied and was accepted into the University’s forensic science program, and I began my first year in fall of 2014. Before long, I decided to switch my major to information technology with a concentration in network administration and security. Halfway through my first semester, the University introduced a cybersecurity program, which included classes in cyber forensic science and computer security, and I soon switched my major again.

After my sophomore year, I earned an IT internship with Wellmore Behavioral. Later, I started my first research project, titled “A Survey on Smartphone Users’ Security Choices, Awareness, and Education,” which was later published.

After graduating with my bachelor’s degree in May 2018, I accepted an information security internship at Webster Bank. By the end of the summer, I was offered a full-time position. At the same time, I was offered a competitive graduate assistantship to return to the University of New Haven to pursue my master’s degree in cybersecurity and networks. I ultimately decided to return to school to pursue my master’s degree, and I am so glad I did.

“As a student, I enjoyed volunteering at a variety of events, including a program for Girl Scouts on campus during which we taught the girls about digital forensics and cybersecurity. Courtney Hassenfeldt ’18, ’20 M.S.

From day one as a graduate student, my adviser, Dr. Abe Baggili, challenged me, and I am grateful for the opportunities and that he took a chance on me. In addition to my work as a research assistant for Dr. Baggili and collecting digital artifacts for the University’s Artifact Genome Project, I served as a teaching assistant for the “Intro to Cyber Forensic Science” and “Small Scale Digital Forensics” classes.

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My studies enabled me to attend multiple conferences, including the SheLeadsTech conference in Hartford, Conn., where Professor Liberty Page was a featured speaker. I also presented a poster at DFRWS (Digital Forensics Workshop) in Portland, Oregon. A month after that, I was in Canterbury in England at the International Conference on Availability, Reliability, and Security (ARES), where I presented a paper I co-authored called “Map My Murder: A Digital Forensic Study of Mobile Health and Fitness Applications.” I also went to Security BSides CT, an information security conference, where I took part in a competition in which I finished in eighth place overall.

As a student, I enjoyed volunteering at a variety of events, including a program for Girl Scouts on campus during which we taught the girls about digital forensics and cybersecurity. I was thrilled to have been a part of a “Girls in STEM” (science, technology, engineering, and math) event for elementary school girls in which Professor Page and I taught the students about cryptography.

It was also amazing to help at the University’s GenCyber Camp that was held over the summer.

“From day one as a graduate student, my adviser, Dr. Abe Baggili, challenged me, and I am grateful for the opportunities and that he took a chance on me.”Courtney Hassenfeldt ’18, ’20 M.S.

With the help of Professor Page, I started a WiCys (Women In Cybersecurity) student chapter on campus. Our first event was extremely successful. More than two dozen students attended our “snack & study” event, and some amazing teaching assistants, as well as Professor Page, came to help students study. I think this shows how supportive we all are of one another. WiCys is a great organization that also holds an annual conference, which Cinthya Grajeda Mendez ’17, ’20 M.S. and I received scholarships to attend.

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Throughout my time at the University, I have been grateful for the assistance and guidance of my professors, as well as the University’s staff members. Everyone is extremely helpful and dedicated to the students. The University fosters a great environment for learning and growth. When talking with other people at different schools, I quickly realized how unique the University of New Haven is, and I was happy to have been a part of of this community.

After completing a cybersecurity internship last summer at MITRE, a nonprofit that manages federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) supporting several U.S. government agencies – including a national cybersecurity federally funded research and development center – and working part time for the organization during the fall semester while I completed my master’s degree, I was offered a full-time position. In March, I will begin my role as a cybersecurity engineer with the organization.

I am excited for the future, and I know the University of New Haven has prepared me for success.



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