Student and Alumni Success
Dr. Yasmin Razack is a recent graduate of our Doctor of Information Assurance (DIA) program. Before attending the University of Fairfax, Yasmin worked in the IT field for 25 years. With the field of cybersecurity becoming more competitive, the demand for specialists increasing like never before, and with the advent of emerging technologies, she decided that it would be a great idea to further her education in this field.
When looking for doctorate programs, Yasmin found that the University of Fairfax’s DIA program was the best fit for her. She appreciated the versatility of our cybersecurity specialization. She states, “The modules included in the program help you to create a clear roadmap in terms of the paths and resources available to break into the field of cybersecurity; it gives you diverse options to move into once you complete the doctoral program. You could take on the role of a security consultant, architect, CISO, analyst, forensic specialist, researcher, or move into a teaching profession.” She also enjoyed the fact that our professors and peers brought their real-world experience to the classroom. “I felt this program helped me tremendously in improving my depth, breadth, and knowledge of cybersecurity.” While attending our DIA program, Yasmin took a break from employment to become a full-time student and double up on her classes. “When one student would submit one paper, I would submit two… my professors supported me so well at that pace, and I really appreciated that.” With excellent support from our Dean, Dr. James Webb, and professors Dr. Umesh Varma and Dr. Timothy Sorber, she was able to double up her course and complete it earlier with an outstanding GPA of 3.98.
Not only did her professors, Dr. Umesh Varma and Dr. Timothy Sorber, support her in her class, but they also jointly published an article with her, based on the work that she did for her dissertation on demystifying the security of blockchain. “I thought it would be good to research on blockchain implementation for the airline industry in the UAE… I’ve been living for 25 years in the UAE and wanted to give back to the country where I grew professionally as well as personally.” She plans to divide her work from her 165-page dissertation into few articles with the guidance of her professors and publish them jointly. When asked about what it was like to work with her professors, she said, “I am able to operate at a different level with my professors co-authoring research papers with them, which is definitely a great experience… I really value the type of guidance they have been giving me, and I look forward to that in the future too.” She plans on presenting her article with her professors at an upcoming conference for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
Yasmin is currently working toward her future goal of becoming a GRC policymaker/researcher/professor in cybersecurity/ emerging technologies. She highly recommends anyone looking to further their future in cybersecurity to join our DIA program and has already started recommending it to her mentees.
Kruthi Jayakumar is a student of our Doctorate of Information Assurance program. Becoming a network engineer was something she always imagined being from the time she earned her bachelor’s. She worked for a good number of years as a network engineer and wanted to make a switch to the cybersecurity department of her workplace.
Kruthi first heard about University of Fairfax from a friend of hers that graduated from our MBA program. She was inspired by her friend’s positive experience at our institution. “That was [what] I wanted from a university.” From there, she contacted our Admissions office. “I was surprised by how welcoming and detailed they were about all the information that was required”
Kruthi states that the University of Fairfax exceeded her expectations. The content taught in our program aligned with what she was looking for in a DIA program. “Other programs were focused more on IT whereas this DIA program concentrated more on cybersecurity.” She also appreciated the expertise of our experienced instructors. They were able to teach her about important subjects she did not previously know about such as the legal aspects of cybersecurity. “That was something I had no idea about. [At my job] that is standard, you are supposed to know about that…That is something no one tells you when you work for a company, so that was very good to know.”
In the future, Kruthi hopes to have more of a good standing in cybersecurity and wants to earn more certifications to advance her cybersecurity career.
Before enrolling in University of Fairfax’s Doctorate of Information Assurance (DIA) program, Frances Undelikwo had multiple degrees and 20+ years of experience working in multiple information technology roles in her homeplace of Nigeria. After completing a large project at her last job, she asked herself “What should I do next? What is my next step?” Frances did some research online to find doctorate programs to help her achieve her goal. When she realized she had to go outside of Nigeria to find a program, she was in between 3 universities, University of Fairfax being one of them. When asking her friend, an American professor, which school she should commit to, he suggested University of Fairfax. From there, she applied to our institution and started her journey with us.
From the time she applied to University of Fairfax to her last day of class, Frances’s experience had been completely online. She liked the professionalism of our admissions process. “The enrollment process was very efficient. I did not meet any roadblocks.” For her online classes, she talks about how the initial shift from in-person to online classes was difficult at first, however she “got used to it” and enjoyed her classes. “You learn how to communicate with people digitally… you get what you need.” She also notes how learning online has prepared her to work online due to the corona virus pandemic. She loved that the classes were taught by professionals (those who work in that field) in the field and that everything she learned was relevant to what she would be doing in her future position. “The coursework [relates to] work in the information security arena…It’s not as if you are doing something obsolete”
Now working as the Head of Systems Information Control, Frances hopes to help others and have a true impact in society. She also hopes more women enter the cybersecurity field. “It’s not just for men. The industry is for women as well.” To anyone who may be thinking about earning their DIA with University of Fairfax, Frances encourages you to invest in yourself and go for it. “I am happy to make this investment… I have no regrets on this program.”
John Galliano is a University of Fairfax graduate, a veteran, and now the program director for cybersecurity technology at University of Maryland Global Campus. Before attending University of Fairfax, John attained his master’s degree in information systems and worked in the federal sector in Honolulu, Hawaii.
As an airman deployed in the Gulf during Desert Storm, he saw that a university offered classes to deployed service members, inspiring him to pursue a career in education. “When you have an opportunity to give back, I think it has a strong pull, and so that kind of progressed along in my career.”
He, later, became an adjunct professor while deployed in Korea and he realized that he wanted to go further. “A strong motivator for me was the knowledge that, in higher education, I needed to have a terminal degree.” He researched schools online, talked to his longtime trusted contacts, and found that University of Fairfax was the right fit for him.
John found importance in finding a school that was military friendly. He received the Blue Ribbon Grant twice and utilized other military benefits that University of Fairfax had to offer. “It wasn’t just lip service… [they] made me feel like these were people that I could relate to.” Aside from the cost of John’s application fee, UF’s exclusive Blue Ribbon Grant was able to cover his out-of-pocket costs beyond costs covered by his G.I. Bill benefits. John said that, even through a minor scheduling issue, “[University of Fairfax] was right there and provided me with [a grant] that was more than adequate to cover that additional time in terms of tuition. They were just fantastic about that.”
A couple years after graduating from University of Fairfax, John had the opportunity to become the program director for cybersecurity technology in DC. “Because I had leaned forward and the University of Fairfax was there for me and provided me that great opportunity, I was able to capitalize on it.”
The University of Fairfax doctorate program in Cybersecurity is exceeding my expectations. As a retired Air Force veteran and someone who has been working in security over 35 years, getting my master’s in cybersecurity was a completion of a long career and educational goal I completed before coming to UoF, however, getting a doctorate was also a long-time goal I never considered possible until coming across the University of Fairfax program. This will help reach my final goal of teaching classes one day to help shape future cybersecurity practitioners.
I researched all the schools that offered on-line programs over several months looking for the right fit for my work and home life. I searched for a program that was challenging, rewarding, and aligned with my professional goal and personal life commitments, UoF met the requirements.
The classes, professors, enrollment staff, and counselors have been outstanding in every aspect and all have exceeded my expectations. I spend several hours each day studying in evenings and about 30 hours on weekends as well and have also found the content is relevant to my job and the corporate America. The on-line face-to-face meetings work well being able to see your professor and classmates providing an experience as if being in the classroom.
Dr. Claude L. Jenkins II currently serves as a Computer Science and Technology professional with the US Army Communications and Electronics Command, Software Engineer Center (CECOM SEC).
My journey started with the university of Fairfax back in 2006; I deployed in that particular month, and was able to continue to pursue my studies, he described. There are so many people within the University of Fairfax that I’d like to thank.
-Dr. Claude L. Jenkins II