LUMBERTON — With data breaches and ransomware attacks estimated to surge in 2023, IT experts are in high demand.
For Kristy Blue, cybersecurity is priority number one. It’s her passion and it’s why she chose to study Information Technology at Robeson Community College.
“Every since I was little, I’ve loved computers,” said Blue, “I’m interested in preventing people from hacking databases and protecting personal data.”
Blue’s love and interest in the field of cybersecurity were recently recognized by Microsoft. She was awarded a $500 scholarship from the Microsoft Cybersecurity Scholarship program.
“Getting this scholarship was absolutely amazing,” said Blue, “I have always liked Microsoft and I am so excited to get a scholarship from them.”
According to Cybersecurity Ventures, cybercrimes, and the need for digitized businesses and consumers to guard against such crimes, will drive up expenditures on cybersecurity products and services to $1.75 trillion.
That’s one of the many reasons why Microsoft launched its cybersecurity jobs campaign and scholarship program in 2021. The campaign aims to train the next generation of cyber defenders, like Blue.
To qualify for the scholarship, Blue says “You have to know networking, programming, and coding, and know a little bit about software for cybersecurity, routing, and firewalls.”
But Blue’s expertise goes far beyond that.
“I am certified in Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Excel, and Access,” she said. “I achieved all of that through the IT program at RCC.”
Blue is an alumnus of RCC. She has earned two associate of applied science degrees from the college. In 2019 she graduated from the Office Administration and Office Finance program, and in 2021, she completed a degree in IT. In May 2023, she will receive her third associate’s degree, this one also IT but with a concentration in Gaming and Simulation.
“RCC has been great, it is like family,” Blue said, “They help you when you need it and they encourage you.”
In regards to the IT degree, Blue says “It is a great program, especially if you are into computers and the routing side. It is a great opportunity for anyone to get into.”
She adds, “I love the staff and faculty.”
As part of her education at RCC, Blue was able to take part in an internship with Emerging Technologies, Inc. in Red Springs.
“It was an incredible experience,” Blue said. “I helped the military with a webpage they used in the field with a Raspberry Pi so they could build different radio signals and collect facial recognition from drones.”
“We were able to help the military build what they needed, and they let us test it with them,” Blue stated.
Raspberry Pi boards are tiny, incredibly versatile computers that have been put to an increasing number of practical, fun, and diverse uses by hobbyists. This exceptional flexibility has only been increased over the years by manufacturers coming out with a plethora of add-ons like sensors, touchscreens, wireless connectivity modules, and purpose-built cases.
“It’s like a little mini motherboard,” stated Blue.
With Raspberry Pi, Blue says they can be used for modifying video games, security systems, and more.
Looking towards the future, Blue says she would like to continue her education, getting a bachelor’s degree in Cybersecurity, as well as a master’s degree that combines her love of cybersecurity with video gaming and simulation.
“I would like to one day become a programmer,” Blue said. “If I have to move to get a job in my field, I will, but I would like to see if I can find a job working remotely.”
Blue says she would welcome the opportunity to work for Microsoft, Apple, or as a contractor for the military.
“You have to follow your dreams,” Blue said, “I don’t care what age you are, it’s never too late to achieve what you want in life.”
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