United Airlines, Year Up, ICMCP, and Security Innovations come together to help expose students and young professionals to the cyber security industry!
This week, I held back tears as I watch a year-long vision unfold at the National ICMCP Conference in Atlanta. The International Consortium of Minority Cyber Security Professionals (ICMCP) is an organization dedicated to increasing diversity in the cyber secuirty industry.
Last year while at the conference, I had an inspiring conversation with a recent graduate, Darwin Salazar. He shared his story with me including how he and his friends pulled their coins together, packed into a small car, and drove from Rhode Island to Atlanta to attend the event. They wanted to learn more about cyber security and connect with a diverse crowd of professionals in the industry – and ICMCP is just the place to do so!
I was so moved by his story and dedication, that I went back to the office and put together a plan for how we could help get 4 students to the conference. As I started to share the vision and execute on this plan, something magical happened. EVERYONE wanted to help and before I knew it, this small idea that sparked from a conversation with a student turned into an unforgettable experience for many.
With the commitment and support of United Airlines, ICMCP, Year Up, and Security Innovations we were able to not only deliver on that vision, but blow it up into something spectacular:
Sponsoring 30 Year Up students attendance at the ICMCP National conference
In an industry riddled with talent and diversity challenges, I feel it’s important for students to see people who look like them in leadership positions and understand what is possible for them in the future. The ICMCP conference was an awesome opportunity to do just that.
- Getting Students to ATL. United Airlines sponsored the flights, hotels, and meals of 30 Year Up students to attend the conference in ATL – over 7x my original plan. For some students, it was their first time ever travelling. Some spoke about how it was their first time in the great city of Atlanta. Others were super excited to return to the city!
- Private Q&A Session with Female Security Leaders. Thanks to ICMCP, the student got access to a private Q&A session with some true powerhouse female CISOs within the cyber security industry including Edna Conway, Shamla Naidoo, and Olivia.
- Scholarship Surprise! Each student walked away with a $1,000 training scholarship from Security Innovations to build their cyber security skills and credentials.
- Exclusive Capture the Flag. The students had access to an exclusive Capture the Flag event run by Security Innovations. During the female security engineer led session the students learned how to hack into websites and think about security from the lens of a hacker.
Announcing the United Cyber Security Scholarship Program
Scholarship winners were also announced throughout the conference as well. This year, United Airlines sponsored travel for select scholarship winners. The students personally expressed their sincere gratitude in the generosity of the company and the commitment to giving back.
We also shared that in 2020, we will be distributing $10,000 in scholarships across several students throughout the year. To take advantage of this opportunity – join ICMCP and remain in the loop on this and other cyber security scholarship opportunities.
My Personal Thoughts and Takeaways
I think there are two important take-aways from this experience for me:
- When you get others to buy into your vision and you are genuinely trying to do good, people will want to help. You can stretch even the smallest budget to new heights. With the help of SO many people from Security Innovations, Year Up, ICMCP, and United the vision to just get 4 students there expanded into everything above and more!
- In conversations with people, truly listen. I happened to read a book called the Art of Communicating by Thich Nhat Hanh around the same time that I attended the conference last year. And one thing I learned from the book is that we should always listen and speak from a mental space of “How can I help this person? How can I reduce their stress, challenges, and pain?” Often times the answer might be to just listen and be there. Sometimes it may also warrant action. Either way, listening from this head space opened my mind to this idea and so many others that I believe can make a difference in the world.
After this experience, my parting thought is simply that I WANT TO DO MORE! Let’s come together and make this even bigger and better in the future!
About The Amazing Non-profits: Year Up and ICMCP
- The ICMCP conference is always a rich experience. It’s the most diverse gathering of cyber security professionals I have ever seen in my 10 year career in the industry and it’s always an uplifting and inspiring experience to attend. If you’ve never been before, I highly encourage you to attend in 2020! Learn more at icmcp.org
- Year Up is a national organization dedicated to closing the opportunity divide by providing students with 6 months of business and technical training in a variety of tracks, including cyber security, followed by 6 months of internship experience at some of the best companies in the world. Learn more at yearup.org