Cutting-Edge Learning Opportunities Lead to Career in Cybersecurity
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.
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.
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.
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.