While Alex Small ‘19 enjoys working as a middle school Ed Tech, he’d been feeling for a while that he needed a change.
“Working in education while fillings one’s cup does not fill one’s wallet. I knew that I needed something that I would enjoy and get paid to do,” he said. “When I heard that the Master of Cybersecurity program became available, I knew I needed to take advantage of the opportunity.”
So, Alex decided to attend Thomas College’s meet and greet on campus for graduate programs.
“I wasn’t sure that continuing my education was in the plan until I met Professor Frank Appunn, Professor Jonathan Grady and Bob Moore,” said Alex. “Each was warm and friendly, and not the stereotypical uptight professor that you might expect. Both professors answered my questions with enthusiasm and a level of honesty I wasn’t expecting. When I met Bob Moore, I was flabbergasted at how un-administrator-like he was. Mr. Moore was down to earth, warm and friendly, and was genuinely interested in what I had to say, nothing like any other administrator I had ever met before.”
When he left the meet and greet, Alex was excited about the idea but worried about entering a graduate program of cybersecurity with no prior experience in the field.
“That was until Dr. Appunn chased me down in the parking lot, saying that he didn’t get a chance to say good-bye and that even though I don’t have a background in Cybersecurity, he thought that I could be successful,” said Alex. “His level of attention was what pushed me to change my mind and give changing my life a try.”
So far, Alex has had a great experience studying for his Master’s in Cybersecurity at Thomas College.
“Thomas College provides a quality academic setting, full of professors and administrators, who honestly want to see their students succeed,” he said. “The professors, not subjecting themselves to rigid office times that are impossible for a person to get to while working a regular job, ensure that they make themselves available. I have the first-hand experience of this as Dr. Appunn has offered to be available at 2 am before. The professors treat every student as an individual guiding their students in a challenging and rewarding academic process.”
Alex says that administrations are just as committed in meeting students’ needs.
“In my experience, most administrators at other academic institutions are focused on administrative duties, not the students’ success. I have never felt that way in my time at Thomas College,” he said.
For example, he has since run into Bob Moore ‘79, Senior Vice President for Advancement, who remembered him and asked how the Cybersecurity program was going.
“He took the time, amidst his busy schedule to listen to a student sing the praises of the Cyber Security program. Most administrators that I have met, would have found someone more important to talk to. Mr. Moore never did.”
After graduating from the Cybersecurity program, Alex hopes to find a job in this new field.
“I think that the Thomas name on my degree will unequivocally aid in my new career direction,” he said.
When Alex started out, he had absolutely no background in IT.
“Before I could start taking classes in the Master’s in Cybersecurity program, I had to teach myself some fundamental skills. Having no real background in information technology the self-teaching I needed and did was a lot of work,” he said. “But I am proud to be graduating in May with my Master’s in Cybersecurity, I have overcome odds that a year ago I wouldn’t think would be face-able. I achieved, in what was in my mind, the impossible.”