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Exploring a WGU Student's Journey into Cybersecurity

A Q&A with Edna Jonsson

Oct 30, 2023

Editor’s note: This conversation is a follow-up to a recent article discussing the importance of student clubs at online universities.

Entering the field of cybersecurity can be a daunting endeavor for many, filled with challenges and uncertainties. To shed light on what it takes to thrive in this dynamic industry, we sat down with Edna Jonsson, a student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity and information assurance at WGU. Edna shares their inspiring journey, their involvement in WGU’s Cybersecurity Club, and offers valuable insights into the cybersecurity world.

What inspired you to enter the field of cybersecurity?

Edna Jonsson: My journey into cybersecurity started back in 2015 when I enrolled in an online introduction to computer science class, CS50. During discussions, I learned about Defcon, a renowned cybersecurity conference. Watching Defcon videos piqued my interest, and I decided to attend my first cybersecurity conference at BSides Orlando, hosted by the University of Central Florida. I felt lost and out of place at first, but a talk by Ean Meyer changed everything. He emphasized the power of volunteering and building connections in the cybersecurity community. This talk was a turning point, and it inspired me to commit to cybersecurity as my career path.

How would you describe your experiences as a student, particularly with your participation in WGU’s Cybersecurity Club?

EJ: I joined the WGU Cybersecurity Club, an essential part of my academic journey. It started with activities like HackTheBox nights and NICE Challenges, and soon expanded to include CCDC, NCL, TryHackMe, and even fun events like karaoke nights. I started by helping, and before I knew it, I was vice president and then president of the club. The club is made up of kind individuals who are always willing to help new students and those looking to gain practical skills.

What does the Cybersecurity Club offer students?

EJ: The cybersecurity club offers students a wealth of resources. We have monthly meetings with phenomenal speakers and most activities take place on our club Discord. There are study sessions, social events, and multiple competitions, including the National Cyber League, Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, and NICE Challenges. We even have a weekly accountability group for support and guidance. The club truly enriches the learning experience.

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month – what are some things you want people interested in the field to know about cybersecurity?

EJ: I want people to know that entering the field of cybersecurity may sound challenging, but it's achievable. There are thriving communities within the cybersecurity field where individuals are eager to help you succeed. Learning the necessary skills is key to thriving, and it's a highly rewarding career. You're constantly learning, facing new challenges, and evolving. WGU is an excellent place to begin your journey, with a supportive community like the Cybersecurity Club.

How can everyone make their online lives safer?

EJ: Ensuring online safety is crucial. Some key practices include keeping software and applications updated, using strong passwords, and implementing Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for your accounts. Additionally, be vigilant against phishing emails. It's a process that requires time and ongoing evaluation, but it's vital for your digital security.

Edna Jonsson's journey into the world of cybersecurity is an inspiring example of how anyone can transition into this dynamic field. Their involvement in the WGU Cybersecurity Club highlights the importance of community and support for aspiring cybersecurity professionals. As we celebrate Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Edna's advice on online safety reminds us that, with the right practices and continuous learning, we can all safeguard our digital lives.

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