U.S. Bank providing cybersecurity scholarships to four UMSL students
By Sarah Thomas
Courtney Zoellner’s interest in cybersecurity began instantly after her boss taught her to hack into an X-ray machine while she was working as a veterinarian technician.
“After work that day, I probably stayed up until 4 am YouTubing cybersecurity hacking,” Zoellner said, “and I ended up applying to UMSL at like 1:30 in the morning hoping I would get into the program.”
Zoellner is now a senior at the University of Missouri–St. Louis majoring in information systems and technology and pursuing a certificate in cybersecurity. Her passion for cybersecurity has continued to grow, and she’s built a network of people in the field and added a job at Emerson Electric specializing in cybersecurity.
On Thursday, she was honored as one of four recipients of $2,500 U.S. Bank Cybersecurity Scholarships. The U.S. Bank Cybersecurity Scholarship program provides UMSL cybersecurity students with financial assistance as a part of U.S. Bank’s efforts to address the talent shortage in the field.
This year’s other recipients were Carleta McKenzie, Patrick Brackin and James Brown. They were all presented with certificates during a ceremony in the U.S. Bank Executive Education Room in Anheuser-Busch Hall.
Larry Otto, St. Louis Market President of U.S. Bank, presented the awards to the recipients at the scholarship ceremony. Otto expressed gratitude for the UMSL and U.S. Bank partnership and spoke to the importance of developing talented professional in cybersecurity.
“Information security services is one of the most important fields of the day in the financial industry and in many industries,” Otto told the audience at Thursday’s ceremony. “If you think about a bank and you think about bank risk, it’s no longer people robbing cash. We don’t have that much anymore. It’s all digital. Information security is so important because failure in that area for us amounts to not just financial risk but reputational risk.”
McKenzie is pursuing a master’s in information systems and technology and aims to establish a career that will allow her to use her background in human resources to lead cybersecurity training, awareness and policy risk and management.
“Everything that I do is internet based so my information is out there, which is where my motivation in cybersecurity stems from,” McKenzie said. “My passion stems from wanting to protect my information and others information.”
Brown is majoring in computer science while pursuing his certificate in cybersecurity. UMSL has been instrumental in helping him advance in the field, including helping him land an internship at TD Ameritrade. He’s developed a passion for cloud and data security.
Brackin, an information systems major with an emphasis in cybersecurity, discovered his interest in the field when he was in middle school and heard about jailbreaking – the privilege escalation of an Apple device for the purpose of removing software restrictions imposed by the manufacturer. He first learned how to do it on his iPod.
There were a few chuckles in the room as Brackin relayed that story. He’s since developed new goals, hoping to work in the prevention of cyberattacks. He is currently working in a cybersecurity position at Ameren.
All the scholarship recipients were grateful for the opportunities provided to them by the cybersecurity program and faculty at UMSL as well as the partnership with U.S. Bank and the financial assistance awarded.
Charles Hoffman, dean of College of Business Administration, is proud of UMSL’s continuing efforts to promote and invest in cybersecurity and appreciative of U.S. Bank’s support, which extends far beyond the scholarships as a supporter of the UMSL Bridge Program and UMSL’s campus banking partner.
“U.S. Bank has made it possible for us to provide a number of opportunities for our students,” Hoffman said. “We are especially grateful for the cybersecurity scholarships because we have spent the last five years developing our cybersecurity program so that our students have the resources to advance in cybersecurity.”
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