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WGU Awards First Roy Romer Opportunity Scholarship

Feb 17, 2023

Denver recipient is passionate about cybersecurity and keeping community safe

As the first recipient of the Roy Romer Opportunity Scholarship, Kaitlyn Heaton of Denver plans to use her bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity to protect as many people as possible against threats to their privacy. She passionately believes that everyone has the right to feel safe and secure while using their digital devices and says her degree will help improve security in her community.

Heaton was recently honored at a ceremony where Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a proclamation recognizing the state's partnership with Western Governors University  (WGU), whose mission is to create pathways to opportunity and improve access to higher education for working learners in Colorado.  

“I’m thrilled the university sees my potential and believes in me enough to award me this scholarship. It's an honor to be the first recipient of the scholarship named for Governor Romer,” said Heaton. “In Colorado, students have distinct identities and needs – and WGU is an excellent option for students who prefer an online, competency-based option.”

New students or returning graduates who live in Colorado and enroll at WGU are eligible to apply for the scholarship. Valued at up to $4,000, it will be credited to recipients at $1,000 per term for up to four terms. It will be applied to WGU’s already-low, flat-rate tuition, which is currently about $3,800 per six-month term for most programs. 

Heaton discovered the Roy Romer Opportunity Scholarship through the Scholarship Universe portal, which she signed up for during her enrollment process.

“The hunt for scholarships was intimidating at first, but I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to get matched to relevant opportunities through the Scholarship Universe,” she says.

Heaton is an entrepreneur and, in 2021, launched her own retail consultancy. She knows protecting the private data of her customers and her businesses is vital – and she places secure electronic information as a priority for her ongoing success.

Once she receives her degree in Online Cybersecurity and Information Assurance, her long-term goal is to improve the security of her community, herself and her loved ones from potential threats.

“I want to educate as many people and businesses as possible on how they can best protect themselves and their community,” she says. “Private data, such as customer information and intellectual property, is often the lifeblood of a business. A breach of this data can have severe consequences, including financial loss, damage to reputation, and legal liability.”
Heaton joins a cybersecurity field that is rapidly expanding. Women held 25 percent of cybersecurity jobs globally in 2022, up from 20 percent in 2019, and around 10 percent in 2013. It’s predicted that women will represent 30 percent of the global cybersecurity workforce by 2025, and that will reach 35 percent by 2031.

WGU’s College of IT has seen more than a 40% growth for the last several years in Colorado among female active students. The university also offers a B4 Women in Tech Persistence and Possibility Grant with a special consideration given for students who have demonstrated experience in or commitment to working with historically underserved or underrepresented populations, such as Black, Latina and Native American women.

“Cybersecurity is a growing field that offers many exciting career opportunities. It is an industry that is constantly evolving, and there is always something new to learn. It can be challenging in many ways but also incredibly rewarding,” she says. “It is my belief that every industry can benefit from an increase in diversity. A variety of viewpoints, skills, and experiences is necessary for businesses to keep up with new technologies and capabilities of potential threats.”

In line with her continued passion to protect as many people as possible against threats to their privacy, Heaton’s future goal to aid startup companies in developing security programs.

“Emerging businesses often lack the resources to prioritize security, and I aspire to develop solutions to this issue. We all have a right to feel safe.”

To find out more about the College of IT and other degree programs, check out WGU Colorado .

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