When Gloria Zayas moved to Maryland, she was a single mom of three children and in need of a fresh start.
Zayas, a victim of domestic violence, had a master’s degree in business and years of experience in telecommunications. But to keep her family afloat, she took one of the first jobs she could get – as an enrollment advisor at an online college.
While she enjoyed her job, she missed the technical world. So a few months after starting a new job in cybersecurity, she enrolled at Howard Community College to boost her skills.
“After two of my kids started attending HCC, I decided to take a few classes,” the Columbia resident said. “I’ve been taking two classes a semester ever since.”
Zayas said she appreciates the practical nature of HCC’s cybersecurity program.
“A lot of the instructors, especially the ones I had because I took evening classes, they actually are in the field,” she said. “When you’re in classes with them, they talk about all the real-life experiences they have. They’re industry-based instructors who give students a good understanding of what they’re getting into when they’re done and move on into the real world.”
Zayas also appreciates the diversity in her classes.
“There are younger people, recent high school graduates just starting out and non-traditional students like me who were foreign to their careers, either doing something new or who wanted to do other things in the industry,” she said. “That’s a good mix to go to school with and learn from.”
Still, getting to this point hasn’t been easy. Finances were tight after her divorce, and Zayas has worked full time during her studies at HCC.
Scholarships, including the LG-TEK Scholarship and Matthew Choi Memorial Scholarship for the Arts, and HCC grants made it possible for Zayas to continue her studies and earn her network security administration certificate. She is also on track to soon receive her associate degree in cybersecurity.
“It probably would have been a longer road for me to get any of these degrees with HCC if I had to do it myself,” she said. “The scholarships helped me keep on going so that I could finish… I want to thank all the donors for being so generous and kind in donating to such a great school.”
Zayas recently started a new job as a technical support account manager for a cybersecurity software company.
“Part of the reason I was hired was because of what I learned in my cybersecurity program,” she said. “It’s been a great experience at HCC. I would do it all over again without thinking about it.”
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