Editor’s Note: A previous version of this report misstated the amount of Togunde’s scholarship
Eastern Michigan University student Abisola Togunde is 1 of 11 women in the country to receive the Scholarship for Women Studying Information Security.
Togunde was awarded $5,000 of the $250,000 in scholarship dollars dolled out by the Hewlett-Packard Company and Applied Computer Security Associates.
Togunde, a senior at EMU, received the news that she had won the award late Sunday night in an email.
“As soon as I saw the header I was like ‘please don’t be a rejection.’ I am already a bit of a dramatic person,” Togunde said. “I jumped up and down when I saw I had gotten it and my boyfriend was there and he was like ‘what happened?’”
To be considered for the $5,000 scholarship, Togunde had to write a brief essay expressing what she wishes to do within the IT field along with having to be an undergraduate earning a degree in the IT field.
She was happy to not have to worry about aid for her last year of school. Togunde worked along with going to school full time to pay for school out of pocket.
“Finally, I don’t have to stress about it,” said Togunde.
Togunde will be graduating this December with her degree in Information Assurance with a concentration in management. She transferred to Eastern and into the Information Assurance program when Gerald “Skip” Lawver was director.
“I am very proud of her for getting this scholarship,” Lawver said. “With her winning this scholarship she is forming the foundation for other girls to come into the field.”
Men primarily hold cyber security jobs, and Togunde certainly felt this when she came into the program. When she first entered the program, she was the only female in many of her classes. Togunde would think how ridiculous it was that she was the only girl at times.
“I was really nervous,” Togunde said.
According to Lawver, the females in his classes and the program often times did better than their fellow male students.
“Compared to guys, our girls are doing real well,” Lawver said.
Togunde says she would like to see more women enter the field.
“For the young woman who may be interested in technology, I would like to encourage them to the program. It’s a really good program,” she said.
Although she may be a minority, Togunde is excited to take on the cyber-world and has been exploring her options. Graduate school is something she hopes to do at one point.
“Long term I would like to work for the government,” Togunde said.
Within the government service, IT professionals and experts are wanted very much. The FBI, CIA, Army and other government branches all hire IT professionals.
“By getting a full bachelor’s degree, it opens more doors,” said Lawver.
He says past graduates from the program hold high government positions within the NISA and FBI.
Information Assurance professionals are the people who keep our information safe in the cyber-world. When asked what some of her future responsibilities may be, Togunde used the example of the Target Co. customer information breach that happened last year.
“I would be protecting that data. Stopping the hackers in the cyber-world,” Togunde said. “You’re almost like a cyber-soldier.”
IT professionals are important and are in high demand within the workforce today. Hewlett-Packard helped sponsor Ponemon research to study the IT work landscape today. According the study, this year there is a 40 present vacancy for jobs and 56 percent of companies reported that they do not have a Chief Information Security Officer.
Togunde is ready to take on the IT Security work field, and wishes others to join the battle.