Leaping from pre-med to cybersecurity

Frederick Scholl January 07, 2021

woman holding a white dog

Not many people can make the leap from pre-med to cybersecurity, but the driving force behind Achsah Abraham, CYB '20, was her curiosity in technology. Once she earned her bachelor’s degree in the health sciences field, Abraham began a search for a graduate program in technology that could turn her interest into a career.

Abraham began to sharpen her programming skills while she completed exhaustive research to plan her future. She connected with cybersecurity, mainly due to her interest in ethical hacking, which led her to Quinnipiac’s MS in Cybersecurity program. She was accepted and dove in with enthusiasm and confidence.

Since Abraham grasped the technical aspect quickly, she picked up the coursework and was excited to learn about other facets of the industry such as security automation and analytics.

A cybersecurity professional must have a high level of technical acumen, and in this industry, communication skills are also necessary. These skills are woven into the program through coursework, group work and support from professors and classmates.

Abraham found the design of the curriculum both relevant and helpful during the program. Programs she used in her coursework provided a solid foundation for her to learn new applications.

As she begins her new career, she is both excited and confident. Abraham was hired right out of graduate school as an application administrator to maintain development, integration and production environments.

Abraham said, "If you understand the most basic part of every topic, you can easily build up on it and learn more."


What skills are you falling back on now that you are in a real-world work environment?

I’ve noticed I’ve been doing a lot more scripting/developing which is great because it’s what I enjoy the most. It’s tedious but once you achieve that desired outcome, it’s so rewarding.

How did QU professors/program prepare you for your new role?

Professor Scholl created a thorough program that prepared me for my new role. I think one of the reasons I was able to grasp technical information easily was because each class prepared me enough to take on the tasks of the next class. As someone coming from a non-technical background, I really liked how the courses were planned out.

I learned so much from what my Quinnipiac professors taught in their lectures and the assignments they had us complete. I noticed a lot of what I learned and did in the program really stuck with me as I was going through training courses/tasks at my new job.

Was there one course that you particularly liked and why?

Each of my classes has contributed so much to my learning. I've found what I've learned in Adult Trauma, taught by Dr. Amber Kelly, has been used significantly in my position.

What made you change career paths?

As a Pre-Med student, I wasn’t enjoying what I was learning in undergrad and I knew healthcare wasn’t for me. When I was closer to obtaining my bachelor's degree, I remember taking basic computer programming courses in high school and thought about how well I did in those classes; so, my desire to get into the tech world grew. I was always interested with everything technical but never thought of pursuing it; so finally, I thought – why not get into the field I enjoy learning about.

Were you able to keep up with the technical aspect of the classes?

For the most part, I’d like to think I kept up with the technical aspect of the classes. If I did stumble across something, I reached out to my professor or classmates and they helped me get through that issue.

What kind of work experience did some of your classmates have?

I know some of my classmates were experienced in the IT field, so I always thought about how behind I am compared to them. They were well-versed in the subject, it impressed me and motivated me to learn more about what we were covering in class. They also helped me out if I was stuck on a task — so that’s a plus!

Did you feel supported by the professors?

Absolutely. The professors in the program were incredibly helpful. If I needed help with an assignment, I’d shoot them an email and they always took their time to explain what was going wrong and how to get past it to get the desired outcome.

How do you stay connected with Quinnipiac?

We have a Quinnipiac Cybersecurity Community meeting that began recently. We meet once a month and discuss cybersecurity/technology related subjects. We also stay connected through a LinkedIn Group.

If you are like Abraham and just starting out in your cybersecurity career or like her classmates who have security experience, this program can help you advance your cybersecurity career. Find out more about Quinnipiac’s MS in Cybersecurity.

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