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Bachelor’s in Cybersecurity Virtual Open House

20 Min Read

Koya Wilson: Good evening everyone, and thank you for attending tonight’s BS in cybersecurity [inaudible 00:00:06] here for Utica University. My name is Koya Wilson, and I’m also a enrollment counselor here with our online programs, and we’ll go ahead and begin our presentation right now.

So a little bit of what you can expect in tonight’s VOH, it will be an overview of the programs and discuss student expectations and outcomes. We’ll get to talk about the next steps in answer to your questions, and we’ll also have a Q&A section for this webinar where we’ll be able to answer any questions that you may have about the cybersecurity program.

Tonight’s presenters are our program director, Dr. Leslie Corbo, and then we also will have a current student, who is also in our BS in cybersecurity program right now, Mr. Mark Oppedisano. And now we’ll hear more from our program director, Dr. Leslie Corbo.

Dr. Leslie Corbo: Hi everybody. A little bit of background about me, I’ve been with Utica university since 2012. I left for a very brief time, went to work at Dragos as the director of training. I decided to come back. I missed my students a lot. And my former life includes I worked as an information security program manager for Cofense, I did a lot of work in government supporting Department of Defense and the Homeland Security’s initiatives, mostly with, out of their S&T division, which is science and technology.

As you can see, I have a doctorate in cybersecurity from Cap Tech University, but my undergrad and grad degrees are from Utica College. I have done a lot of research and things like that. I still conduct research regularly. It usually involves things like behavioral analysis, phishing emails, that kind of thing. I did work with several other people writing a paper that was published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, and they think that I’m the only cybersecurity professor ever published there. And then that paper was named one of the global best papers by IMIA, which is the International Medical Informatics Association, in 2019.

I do a lot of work with the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education. We collaborate with academia, industry, and government to create some really good programs and things throughout the country. And of course, I’m a very proud member of Women in Cybersecurity. I’m also a member of ISACA, and they call it [sissy 00:03:02], which I hate that term. But CISSE’s the Colloquium For Information Systems Security Education. So that is me in one minute.

Koya Wilson: All right. Thank you so much, Dr. Corbo, and we’re happy to have you on here tonight, okay?

Dr. Leslie Corbo: Thanks. So I’m going to go through this a little bit, because this really explains how important you all are, how important people are to getting an education in cybersecurity and going on to work in the field. So March 2020, we all remember what happened. It was the day that the world shut down. March 2020 was horrible. We had all kinds of email scams that were associated with COVID. More than 650% of phishing emails, which is already bad to begin with, but to include even more is worse. And a lot of it was around COVID. We were very unprepared. We were unprepared for the workplace having to move remotely. It’s one of those things where we had to have more information security analysts. Because of this, even information security analysts, which is just a part of our job openings and things like that. That’s going to grow over 30% between where it was in 2019 and 2029. And as the slide says, that’s bigger, that’s way bigger than the average occupation in the US.

We have over half a million unfilled positions right now. There’s going to be more. We need people with a cybersecurity mindset and background. So that’s probably why some of you are here. So a lot of the information that I get, and a lot of the places that I work with, when I work with CISSE or the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, we get a lot of our information from Cyberseek. And Cyberseek does a lot of research on different fields and things that cybersecurity students need to know. That’s where this all comes in. So when we’re looking at the top skills that are needed, they’ve changed a lot. They’ve changed a lot since I’ve worked at the college, but they’ve also changed a lot since I’ve been working in industry.

Now what we’re looking for, we’re looking for people who have that security operations background or mindset. We need people who understand cryptography. Cybersecurity is not a criminal justice function like it once was when it first started. Now it’s a business function, and we’re looking for people who can look at a threat and analyze it. We’re looking for people who are doing risk management in cybersecurity, risk assessments in cybersecurity. I could tell you stories about some of my students where they’re like, “That’s all I do all day is measure risk and I love it.” And that’s because that’s one of my favorite things to do too.

We look at the cybersecurity framework. Network security, authentication. Internal auditing, that’s a big deal too. So all of these tech skills are things that we’ve decided through all these different working groups that these are really important to you in your future careers.

Koya Wilson: So why choose Utica University’s BS in cybersecurity? That’s for many different reasons, guys. For one, we’re NSA/DoD Designated Center of Excellence. We have a cutting edge, hands on curriculum, multiple specializations, 100% online flexibility, personal support and advising. You’re not going to get that from many other colleges out there. And then we also can offer small class sizes, and Dr. Corbo will go into the other reasons of why you should choose Utica University’s BS in cybersecurity.

Dr. Leslie Corbo: So one of the things that we’ve implemented over the past six months at Utica College is something called RangeForce. RangeForce is used by, they’re used by where Mark is going to work pretty soon. They’re used by Ernst & Young. They’re used by two or three of the big four, which are Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG. They’re using RangeForce, and that’s how they’re teaching their people that have been there for a while, and new technologies come out all the time. So with RangeForce, you’re getting that real hands-on experience, that experiential learning where you can say, “Yeah, I’ve used that technology. I’ve used that cyber tool.”

Along the way, you get to collect digital badges. Digital badges are a big deal. And at first… because I’m older, so I always laugh, because to me it’s like, okay. A digital badge? But I see my friends who work in industry putting these on their LinkedIn pages and things like that, so it’s like okay, everybody wants to do that.

The other thing that we do, we have CompTIA that will now be built into or baked into, those certifications baked into our classes. You will be able to sit for, and part of the class and the textbook is a voucher for, to sit for your exam. So you’ll be able to sit for the CompTIA certifications, Security+ and Network+. You will be almost there in Linux+ by the time you’re done with a program. We’re putting that into a few, we’re putting that into three different places, because the textbook’s like this, but I’m telling you don’t let that scare you. Because by the time that you’re done, you’re going to have these things.

We also house the Northeast Cybersecurity and Forensics Center. We have the Economic Crime and Cybersecurity Institute, and our faculty is… our adjunct faculty all have experience working in the field. Those of us who are program directors have… we’ve got a lot of industry knowledge and experience, in both the private and the public sector. So we’ll be passing that along to you as well. But when we’re looking at our [inaudible 00:10:08], our adjuncts are going to be giving you that really great knowledge about what’s going on now. I know that several of our adjuncts have recently hired some of our grads, so it’s one of those things where our faculty are working, and they’re decision makers in the field. So they’re picking people from their classes that are doing really well, and finding places for them to work when they’re done.

Koya Wilson: All right.

Dr. Leslie Corbo: So I talked a little bit about RangeForce. The cool thing about RangeForce is, yeah they’re developed by the team that built the cyber range for NATO. However, I’ve worked with most of the people that work with RangeForce in my previous life, so they’re awesome, and they know what they’re doing. The people who’ve developed RangeForce are industry experts and gurus. They know what they’re doing. You’re going to earn those digital badges. Cybersecurity Essentials, Threat Hunter, Cloud Security, SOC Analyst 1, SOC Analyst 2 if you’re a cyber operations major. You’ll have that badge as well when you finish.

Koya Wilson: All right. So here are a few quick facts as far as what you can do getting into the cybersecurity program with us. We take, transfer up to 90 credits. So if you’re coming in with previous credits from another institution, we can take up to 90 credits. And it’s $475 per. In order to graduate, you will need 120 total credits to graduate from the program. And the program length will take you anywhere between two to four years to complete it, and again, we also offer the multiple specializations within the cybersecurity program here.

Dr. Leslie Corbo: Okay. So this is just a list of the classes that you’ll take when you first start the program. Right now, this looks really boring. You’re like, what does this even mean? You see the names of classes, and it isn’t something that you really need to focus or worry about right now. But I can tell you in all of them with the exception of the bottom two, and the bottom says criminal justice internship. And I apologize, that should say cybersecurity internship.

But one of the things that you’re going to be doing through these, through all these classes, is using RangeForce, working towards and achieving those digital badges, getting your certifications that you can put on your resume saying, yep, Cyber 333, Information Security? I have my Security+ certification. Computer Network Investigations? Yep, I have my Network+ certification. Those are great things to put on your resume, and it’s something that we’re really proud of that we’re baking in that real-world experience that you can have when you leave, along with an education. Because a lot of times, it was either one or the other. It was either education or training, and we’re really proud that we’re able to focus on providing both.

Koya Wilson: All right. So now, we will get a chance to hear from Mr. Mark Oppedisano. He is a current student in our BS in cybersecurity, and his specialization is information assurance.

Mark Oppedisano: Hello everyone. My name is Mark Oppedisano. In May, I will be graduating from Utica University with a bachelors in cybersecurity, with a specialization in information. So just a little bit about my background, I initially pursued a business management degree at Stony Brook University that I received in 2017. The big thing to do was, can’t wait to get on a train, commute into the city, join the rat race, work in finance, work in accounting. I graduated in December of 2017 and accepted a position at a forensic accountant.

That initially began my interest in investigative work. It wasn’t as technical, but it did require some puzzle pieces and putting a big picture together, and the majority of it was perhaps tracking money. I took one class. I thought perhaps I’d like to pursue a masters in accounting. I’m glad it only took me one class to realize that it was not for me. I had no intention of pursuing a masters degree in accounting.

At that point I decided to look for a career in finance. I landed a position as a financial services analyst at New York Life. That was a really good position for me, it was a great entry level position to get my foot in the door. But after about I want to say a year and a half, two years really when COVID started, I was scheduled to sit for my Series 6 and my Series 7. I was also scheduled to receive a promotion, and all that stopped once COVID started. In hindsight, I’m really grateful for the opportunity, because it allowed me a moment of clarity if you will, to sit back and say, is this the career trajectory that I want to pursue? Do I want to get yelled at by retirees for the rest of my life?

And in that moment in time, I reached out to our cybersecurity liaison at New York. I began a conversation with him. I told him what my intentions were, what I was looking to do, and approximately two months after in May, I applied to Utica and I was accepted. And I actually, it was sort of like a shotgun start into the program. They emailed me a week later and asked if I would like to begin early. I took two classes over the summer. My second one was with Dr. Corbo, and that was really the class that I realized this is something I was truly passionate about.

In August, I left my full-time job to pursue the degree full-time. I wanted to afford myself the opportunity to be successful and really immerse myself in the program that Utica offered. So fast forward two years, I’ll be graduating in two months, and I’ll be working as a cybersecurity consultant at Ernst & Young. Never in a million years did I think I would land a position like that, but it’s really a testament to the program at Utica, the investment that the professors put in their students to watch them succeed. It’s been a life changing opportunity for me personally.

What initially made me apply to Utica’s cybersecurity program, outside of the credentials, was really just the coursework that they offered. I personally found it really interesting. One of the courses that I’m taking right now that I had looked at back then was cyber operations, which is an advanced Python programming course. I chose information and assurance, because to me it seemed like the hardest of the specializations out there, and I really wanted to do something that would allow me to challenge myself. And it did, but through that, it was an immense growing opportunity for me.

In regards to my work position, I did not continue working full-time. Like I said, I pursued the degree through my entire two years at Utica. During the summer I took one class each session, so they’re broken down into eight week sessions. So I took one class the first session, another course the second session. And then during the fall and spring semesters, I would take two courses per session, so it equates to technically four courses throughout the semester, but they’re condensed into eight week sessions. Time management is extremely important when you’re working through those. It’s not to say that you cannot do it, but you really need to focus and put your effort into managing your schedule and making sure that you’re completing your work on time.

It does not require you to quit your job and pursue the program, which is nice. While I was working and I was attending Utica, I did work full-time. I did dedicate about 20 to 25 hours per week, including weekends sometimes, to really get my work done. But of course, it’s paid off immensely. And it’s not to say that you’re in this program alone. As Dr. Corbo mentioned, they have industry leading professionals and professors that are here to teach you and assist you. Not one time during my program did I feel as if I was stupid for asking a question. I showed up to office hours almost every week not knowing what was going on and asking professors to walk me through and explain things to me. And it’s because of them taking the time that I’m in the position that I’m at today.

Out of my degree program, both at Stony Brook and at Utica, I can say the professors at Utica really invest in your future and want to see you succeed. That’s a great benefit to have when you’re at school, and you’re in an online program, and things are condensed and you don’t have the opportunity as you did when you were younger, and had the time to work at your degree. It does, like I said, require some time management on your end. You will succeed. All I can recommend is that you afford yourself the opportunity to be successful, because it is there. I know because I am successful. Never in a million years when I began the program did I think that I would land a position at Ernst & Young, but here we are today, and I have Utica to thank for that.

Koya Wilson: All right, well thank you so much Mark, and I’m very happy to see that you’re going to be doing great things once you graduate in May.

Dr. Leslie Corbo: And you know what Mark? I can pile on just a little bit, because I remember you and me having these conversations when we first… when I’d have virtual office hours, and you’d come, we’d talk about it and everything. And here you are.

Mark Oppedisano: I know, and-

Dr. Leslie Corbo: And it wasn’t that long ago.

Mark Oppedisano: It’s two years, but it feels like two days. It goes so quick. Our conversations really allowed me to be as successful as I am, and put things in perspective, and work hard and get to this position. We have people like you in the program to-

Dr. Leslie Corbo: I appreciate that. I think we do it, we all do it together as a team. But I think it’s funny that you mentioned that the other college you went to, only because my daughter can’t believe, at holidays and things like that, how many emails and text messages and phone calls I get from former students and things. She’s like, “I never talk to any of my professors. I was in a class with 100 people, nobody talked to the professor. They had office hours like half an hour a week,” that kind of thing. She’s like, “I don’t know how you know all these people.”

Mark Oppedisano: It’s nice, because the way the program is structured, the courses are more intimate than if you were in an auditorium or a lecture hall. It’s really, to me I consider it more of a one on one learning experience, because the professors do dedicate their time and offer their time to open up a dialogue and try and assist you. And that allows you really to build a relationship, and I have so many of my professors’ numbers on my phone, and connected on LinkedIn, and just trying to remain in contact because there’s such a wealth of knowledge and information that they’ll always be able to share with you. So it’s great.

Koya Wilson: That’s great. So now we’ll discuss our next steps, and how enrollment will support you as a potential student. So as a student, you would apply with an enrollment counselor’s help. So we basically are with you from the beginning of applying, putting in your application, all the way up to getting you an admissions decisions. So we assist students in ordering transcripts, answer questions along the way, because there will be some questions that you’ll have along the process. And we also review your documents with you.

Once you’re accepted, the registration is then facilitated by an enrollment counselor, someone like myself. And then you, once you start your classes, you’ll actually have a success coach. They’re basically going to be pretty much just like an enrollment counselor, but now it’s on the registered and you started classes side. So they’ll give you your personalized plan of study, they’ll go over new student orientation. They also do live coffee talk webinars, ongoing and scheduling and registration, as well as support throughout your entire program. So they will be with you from the very first day of your classes all the way up until you’re graduating. Which is a really nice feature that Utica University offers.

You also will have 24/7 engaged technology and support, so if there’s ever an issue with you logging into your classes or whatsoever, you do have access to 24/7 support there. And then like I mentioned, this is [inaudible 00:23:27] learning platform. So you’ll have the flexibility to learn from anywhere as long as you have wifi and a computer. You basically can take your work with you. You’re able to balance school and other responsibilities with this type of program. And as far as the academic advisor, they will also help you with career guidance and also support throughout your program.

So the requirements for getting into the program, or at least applying for it, you would need to have a completed online application, all official transcripts, at least a 3.0 minimum GPA for high school transcripts and a 2.5 for any college transfer credits, and then also a resume, a personal statement, and only one letter of recommendation is needed.

As far as next steps, we accept applications throughout the entire year. And as I mentioned before, we can help you order your transcripts. And you’ll receive a response from the admissions department within two to three weeks after your entire file has been submitted.

We’d like to thank you for attending tonight’s VOH for the BS in cybersecurity. Here’s how you can contact [inaudible 00:24:41]. Here’s the number provided. The number is 1-866-295-3106. Our email where you can reach us is, and there’s also the web link for our application below that. And again, thanks for attending tonight’s VOH session.

In this virtual open house video, cybersecurity program director Dr. Leslie Corbo discusses the advantages of Utica University’s online B.S. in Cybersecurity. Learn more about the renowned program and its specializations, and find out how you can gain hands-on experience while earning impressive digital badges through a unique partnership with RangeForce. You’ll also hear from Utica University cybersecurity student Mark Oppedisano, who talks about what it’s like to learn from industry-leading professionals and professors.

Request more information about our faculty and programs or call 315.732.2640 or toll-free 866.295.3106. Have a great day.

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